Charles Rex McCardell
Sept. 6,1926 - July 12, 2018
Rex McCardell, a marine engineer who played a major role in the design and construction of Golden Gate Ferry’s first three fast ferryboats, died on July 12, 2018 at this home in Mill Valley. He was 91 years old and had been ill for some time.
He had a long career in both civil and maritime engineering and spent 35 years working for the Golden Gate Bridge District’s ferry division. When he retired, ferry transit manager, Eric Robinson, said McCardell’s technical and professional knowledge “was indispensable” to the ferry division. He joined the ferry division in 1972 and worked on the construction of the ferries San Francisco, Marin and Sonoma, which became mainstays of the San Francisco-Larkspur run. He also worked on ferry terminals and had important roles in converting the three Larkspur boats from gas turbine propulsion to diesel power. The three ferries, now 41 years old, continue in daily operation on San Francisco Bay and have proved comfortable and reliable.
McCardell was a rare professional in the engineering field - he was both a civil and marine engineer. In the civil field, he was a consultant on the construction of the Taugus River suspension bridge in Lisbon, Portugal, and served for a time as city engineer of the town of Brisbane on the San Francisco Peninsula.
Charles Rex McCardell – his friends always called him “Rex” – was born in San Francisco on September 6, 1926 and moved at an early age to Brisbane. He graduated from Jefferson High School in Daly City and then attended the United States Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y. and graduated with a degree in marine engineering in 1947 and commissioned as a Naval Reserve officer. As a cadet he served aboard a Liberty Ship in 1944 and participated in the invasion of Okinawa. He remained in the Naval Reserve and served as chief engineer on the USS Watson during the Korean war.
Between wars, he earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. He was also vice president and chief engineer for Thomas Tl Lunde, Inc., a San Francisco engineering firm.
Rex McCardell and his beloved wife, Norah, were married for more than 50 years. They spent their honeymoon traveling around the world, flying aboard Pan American World Airways famous Flight 1. They travelled every chance they could get until her death last year.
After his retirement, McCardell lent his engineering and business experience to the World War II Liberty Ship Jeremiah O’Brien, docked as a living memorial in San Francisco. He served for many years as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Liberty Ship Memorial, which owns and operates the ship.
Donations may be made in Rex McCardell’s honor to the National Liberty Ship Memorial in San Francisco