CHESTERTOWN - Dr. Charles R. Halstead, 87, of Chestertown, died at his home on Oct. 9, 2012. Born in Flushing, N.Y., he was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wright Halstead and Lucille Holiff Halstead. Dr. Halstead received his primary and secondary education in the public schools of New York, during which time he was called “Charles Raymond.” He was honorably discharged after serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II as an enlisted man and as an aviation cadet.
For more than four decades, Dr. Halstead was a parishioner at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Chestertown. He served there as chalieist, lector, vestryman, usher, teller and delegate to the Diocesan Convention. In 1988, he traveled to Brazil representing the regional diocese of the Episcopal Church, working as part of a team seeking to foster a companion diocese relationship with a diocese of the Episcopal Church in Brazil.
Dr. Halstead was very actively involved in the good works of local eleemosynary, cultural and civic institutions and organizations, especially after his retirement from full-time teaching. He served on the boards of the Historical Society of Kent County, the Kent County Historical Trust, the Kent Association of Riding Therapy, the Chestertown Cotillion, the Church Hill Theatre and the Chestertown Gourmet Club. He was also vice-president of the Chester Harbor Community Association, a founding member of the Friends of the Miller Library at Washington College and a steady supporter of the Kent County Friends of Chamber Music.
Dr. Halstead received a bachelor's degree in sociology, [italic]magna cum laude[/Italic], from Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. Dr. Halstead pursued graduate studies at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, receiving a master's degree in international relations from the Woodrow Wilson School of Foreign Affairs, and a doctorate in European history from the Corcoran School of History. Dr. Halstead's area of expertise in his graduate studies was international diplomatic relations of Spain and Portugal from the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War through the formation of the United Nations after World War II.
Throughout his life, Dr. Halstead achieved expertise in a number of other areas of history, including medieval history, Roman Britain and the Russo-German Theatre of World War II. His personal library in those and other areas, including a very specialized library on New England and maritime Canadian whales and whaling dating back 300 years, was of world-class caliber and numbered several thousand volumes. Certain of those collections have been bequeathed to Siena College and the University of Virginia.
Dr. Halstead was also a keen philatelist. His collection of stamps, covers and postal stationery of the Falkland Islands was auctioned some years ago in ago London, England. Dr. Halstead compiled an extensive collection of watercolor and oil paintings. That collection was of scenes of the Chesapeake Bay region and other local subjects by well known local and regional artists. Dr. Halstead was an enthusiastic fisherman and sailor. He fished for tarpon in Belize; giant bluefin tuna in Newfoundland, Canada; and caught a prize-winning codfish near Tromso, Norway, adjacent to the Arctic Circle. He was also the tallest member of the Hartly, Del. Ballroom Dancing Club. He spoke Spanish, French and German and was a member of the French and German clubs that conveyed at the Chester River Yacht and Country Club. Colleagues described Dr. Halstead as a true renaissance man. Dr. Halstead also correctly described himself and prided himself as being a renaissance man.
Dr. Halstead retired from Washington College in 1988, after a 33-year teaching career and 25 years at that institution. His history courses included Ancient and Medieval History; the Renaissance and Reformation; Modern Europe, specializing in Iberia; and the History of the British Isles, specializing in Tutor England. After retirement, Dr. Halstead taught at the Academy of Lifelong Learning and Pace Program at Washington College. In addition, he taught numerous classes at Chesapeake College in the Institute for Adult Education.
A colleague at Washington College related an instance of seeing Dr. Halstead in the faculty lounge frantically preparing for an upcoming lecture. When questioned about why he was putting such effort into a lecture he had given dozens of times, Dr. Halstead told the subsequently embarrassed new professor that each school year, he updated his lectures with recent innovative views, reexamination of original sources and new research. He mentioned that he maintained notes from year to year of the areas of each of his classes that the students liked, disliked and with which they had difficulty, together with what worked in class and what did not. Finally, he indicated he made notes of how he should improve his lectures the next time he taught the class. He was described as a teaching role model for other facility. Dr. Halstead correctly described himself and prided himself on being a teacher.
Dr. Halsted was also a published scholarly author. The area of research for which he was noted was Twentieth Century Iberian international and diplomatic relations during World War II. Dr. Halstead's work in this area involved research in foreign and domestic archives, which was frequently supported by endowments and grants from academic and scholarly foundations. Not surprisingly, he traveled frequently and extensively throughout Europe. His articles about Spanish and Portuguese diplomacy during that period focused on the diplomatic personnel serving in Madrid. Dr. Halstead was especially proud of his corpus of academic publications produced by original and innovative research of the diplomatic relations between Spain and Portugal during the Spanish Civil War and World War II. Those articles reached an appreciative international audience. That work was internationally regarded as ground-breaking and seminal.
Dr. Halstead wrote occasional pieces for the Kent County News concerning the European origins of local names and institutions. As a gifted historian, he was often asked to function as a judge for oratorical and essay contests sponsored by community civic organizations, including the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution. As a speaker, he addressed various other community groups about historical, international and travel topics, including the Rotarians, the Questers, the Women's League of Washington College, the Lambert Wickes Society, the Historical Society of Kent County and the Chestertown Library. Dr. Halstead correctly described himself and prided himself on being a scholar.
The Washington College and Chestertown community provided recollections of Dr. Halstead's formal but relaxed charm. His Victorian form of speech was grammatically correct and followed the etiquette of that period, while putting at ease any individual with whom he was conversing. Dr. Halstead was a fixture on the Washington College campus in his three piece suit, even in the 1970's when some fellow professors wore torn jeans and flannel shirts. It was noted by a colleague that Dr. Halstead was the only person to visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal, Guatemala while wearing a white shirt and tie. Every colleague and friend who provided a remembrance described Dr. Halstead as a consummate gentleman. While proud of his gentility, Dr. Halstead was too much of a gentleman to describe himself as such.
Dr. Halstead was predeceased by a brother, Phillip Halstead of Bolder, Colo. He is survived by a son, Clifford Sidney Halstead; daughter-in-law Angela Halstead; and two grandchildren, Clifford Sidney Halstead Jr. and Sarah Marie Halstead; all of Spartanburg, S.C.; and a sister-in-law, Ms. Sheila Halstead; and niece, Megan Jean Richardson; both of Littleton, Colo.
A memorial service will be held at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Chestertown, at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20. Private interment will be at Old Saint Paul's Episcopal Church.
In lieu of flowers, it is suggested that contributions be made to the Kent and Queen Anne's or Church Hill rescue squads. Those who wish, may contribute to the Charles R. Halstead Memorial History Graduation Award Fund at Washington College, in care of David C. Wright, Esq., 100 Church Alley, Chestertown, MD 21620.