Dr. Charles Chiklis, Former MSE Teaching Professor, Dies at 75

Dr. Charles Koulias Chiklis, a former MSE teaching professor and a well-known local musician, died Aug. 30 at his home in Cary after a long battle with cancer. He was 75.

While on the MSE faculty during the 1990s, Chiklis directed the department’s senior design program, a required course in which undergraduates collaborate on industry-sponsored projects. Chiklis was a prolific researcher in the field of polymer materials, acquiring 19 patents during his career. Before coming to NC State, he managed the polymer research lab at Polaroid Corporation, and as an Air Force officer the in the 1950s, he performed research for the early stages of the Apollo lunar mission. He held bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from Lowell Technology Institute in Lowell, Mass.

Outside of his scientific and academic pursuits, Chiklis built a reputation on the local music scene as an outstanding drummer and band leader. His dance band, Charlie Chiklis and the Moonlighters, performed swing, Latin and other types of music at Raleigh-area venues as well as at such notable spots as the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

Chiklis is fondly remembered by his MSE faculty colleagues. “He was the quintessential gentleman,” said Dr. Jerry Cuomo, a distinguished university research professor of materials science and engineering. “ He always came to class in a jacket and tie and a handkerchief in his pocket, and he showed great respect for the students under his guidance.” For 11 years until his death, Chiklis was vice president of TriboFilm Research Inc., a company founded and headed by Cuomo.  Chiklis also owned a chemical consulting firm, C.K. Chiklis and Associates.

Dr. John Hren, former MSE department head, had been supervising the senior design program part time with the help of another MSE professor, Dr. Ray Benson, when Chiklis came to take it over. Hren said the job required “full-time effort, teaching skills and relevant industrial experience. Chiklis clearly had all of these qualifications and an obvious enthusiasm for the challenge.” 

Survivors include Joan, his wife of 53 years; two daughters, Deborah MacQueen (along with husband Duncan and sons Robert and William) and Cynthia (husband Mark and children Michael and Meredith); a son, Gregory (wife Fadwah and children Charles, Alexander and Victoria); and a sister and brother-in-law, Christine and Harry Stamas.

The funeral was held Sept. 3 at St. Andrews Church in Apex, with burial in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh. 

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions for kidney cancer research at the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center (CB 7295, UNC, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7295) or to Hospice of Wake County (1300 St. Mary’s St., Suite 400, Raleigh, NC 27605).