Warden takes Chapel to new level

Charles Warden ’41 received a fine education at Cornell. But the academic experience plays second fiddle in his mind to what he considers the best legacy of his Cornell experience.

“The point of Cornell to me was the friendships I made there,” Warden has often said. Though he was raised in larger Eastern cities, Chuck took a liking to rural campus life when he arrived in the late 1930s.

Charles and Ruth Warden Charles Warden '41 (right) will finance an elevator in King Chapel in memory of his wife, Ruth "Gussie" Ohlsen Warden '41 (left).

“Cornell was just something new,” he said.

King Chapel stood as the centerpiece of that campus experience. It was a symbol of the college, he said. It was a place he visited every morning for daily chapel and saw often after graduation when he and his wife Ruth “Gussie” Ohlsen Warden ’41 returned for campus visits.

This pivotal place in Chuck’s life will have an elevator soon, thanks to a $250,000 gift from Chuck. King Chapel’s much-needed elevator will be known as the Ruth Ohlsen Warden Memorial Elevator, in honor of his classmate, longtime wife, and enthusiastic traveling partner, who died in 2004.

Chuck and Ruth married in 1942, as soon as he graduated from flight school. Ruth was an art major and a pianist who could play beautifully by ear. He was trained as a World War II fi ghter pilot. After retiring as a colonel, he went on to study law at the University of Iowa.

The two moved to Boulder in 1950, where Chuck started a real estate company, was appointed a municipal judge, became the Colorado director of the Federal Housing Administration, and retired in 1980 from Western Federal Savings as senior vice president.

Every other year the couple would pack their traveling bags, exploring places like Mexico and the Orient, but loving Europe most, especially Switzerland.

Annual visits to the Hilltop were mixed right in with overseas exploration, including a 1975 visit to receive Chuck’s Alumni Achievement Award, and a 2003 trip for the college’s Sesquicentennial.

Now 90 and a life trustee, Chuck has lost many of his friends, but his warm relationship with Cornell remains strong. King Chapel’s elevator takes it to a new level.