Mr. Charles Augustus Landis Sr., 88, of Onancock, passed away Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Sonya K. Landis; children, Charles A. Landis Jr., of Washington, D.C., Thomas Severn Landis, of Dallas, and Cynthia Lee Rathbone, of Brunswick, Maine, and four grandchildren. He was predeceased by three brothers.
Charles was born Jan. 5, 1935, in Connersville, Ind., the fourth and youngest son of the late Arthur and Helen Mitchell Landis. At age 8, his father chose a semi-retirement and moved the family to Orange, Va., where he purchased a 500-acre farm.
In 1946, at the age of 11, Charles entered the fifth grade at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, where he graduated in 1953 and matriculated at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., graduating in 1957 with a bachelor of science degree in economics and finance.
Upon graduating from Lehigh, he received a commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and was assigned to a special mission activity attached to Headquarters Command, now known as Joint Base Andrews, outside of Washington, D.C. At completion of his tour of duty, he took advantage of an opportunity to travel and study in Europe for a year. When he returned to the United States, he arrived in New York City on the eve of John F. Kennedy’s election as president. At a celebration of this event, he was invited to work as a volunteer on the Inaugural Committee and returned to Washington, D.C.
After the inauguration, he joined the Riggs National Bank in D.C. and began a career in banking. In 1975, he joined the American Security Bank, also in D.C., where he was employed until 1991, when he retired as a vice president and assistant to the head of the corporate line of business.
When he retired from banking, he and Sonya moved to the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where their family had vacationed for 30 years, and settled in Onancock. Always interested in endeavoring to do something new and challenging, he built a replica of an Eastern Shore home. His principal interests were cruising the Chesapeake Bay and traveling to countries throughout the world.
While he was not a lawyer, representing himself, Landis successfully brought two Freedom of Information suits against a local governing body and received an award from the Virginia Coalition for Open Government. These actions were considered landmark decisions because counsel for the defendant had over 30 years municipal law experience, whereas the plaintiff (Landis) had no experience. The issues were fundamental to open government, and Landis’ success proved a private citizen could prevail in asserting this right.
After physical limitations prevented him from pursuing many of the things he most enjoyed, he renewed his interest in studying the history of the Eastern Shore and, in 2016, published “The Virginia Eastern Shore: An introduction to the History of the Virginia Eastern Shore: A Collection of Essays on Important Events and Persons (1614-2014).” In June 2019, he published “A History of a Landis Family: The Line of Descent from Johannes Hans Landis (1521-1590) and Colonel Thomas Ligon (1623-1675) to Charles Augustus Landis Sr.” Mr. Landis also published numerous commentaries on topical events.
While considered a “come-here” on the Eastern Shore, Mr. Landis was amused when he discovered one of his ancestors was appointed a member of the King James Council of Virginia, which established the Colony of Virginia.
Funeral services were conducted from the graveside at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2023, at 11 a.m.
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Arrangements were by the Williams-Onancock Funeral Home.