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The Plainfield Symphony Orchestra celebrates the life and significant personal and professional contributions of Charles Walter McCutchen, PhD, 1929-2020.

A physicist with expertise in theoretic aerodynamics, human joint lubrication, and scientific fraud, Charles Walter McCutchen grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, in an accomplished, cultured, and philanthropic family that fostered his lifelong love of learning, achievement, and generosity.

As a child, Dr. McCutchen enjoyed summers at his grandparents’ Lake Placid camp, where he became fascinated with natural history as well as aviation, hydroplanes, and windsurfing. He also enjoyed spending time in Plainfield, New Jersey, with his grandmother, a well-known resident of Plainfield.

Dr. McCutchen’s grandfather, a successful businessman and banker, built the oldest, continually operating hotel in Washington, DC — the Hotel Harrington — in 1914. In the 1980s, Dr. McCutchen became President of the Harrington Hotel Company, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary in 2014. For more than 30 years, he was known in the Hotel Harrington Company as a friend and respected father figure rather than only an employer.

Together with his family in 1956, Dr. McCutchen helped form the McCutchen Family Foundation to fund research and educational initiatives for Achromatopsia, a medical syndrome involving color blindness. Today the McCutchen Foundation provides financial aid and scholarships for local, national, and international organizations that help fund medical treatment, disaster relief, and educational opportunities for underserved people.

For most of his career, Dr. McCutchen focused on joint lubrication and theoretic aerodynamics at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. His contributions to the scientific community also importantly include methods for uncovering and preventing fraudulent activity in scientific research and grant applications / allocation. Dr. McCutchen earned his PhD in nuclear physics at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

In addition to his many professional and humanitarian accomplishments, Dr. McCutchen’s legacy includes his thoughtful consideration and support of the arts. Members of the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra and its Board of Trustees are deeply grateful for Dr. McCutchen’s extraordinary contributions over many years. His generosity has helped sustain the Plainfield Symphony Orchestra and enrich the lives of its devoted audience.

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