Charles F. Reed was born Dec. 29, 1930, in Painesville, Ohio, and grew up in Grand River, the second of ten children born to Charles and Myrtle (Guthleben) Reed. After graduating from Harvey High School in 1948, he served 4½ years in the U.S. Air Force, first as an operating room technician at Fort Sam Houston and then as an air-sea rescue crewman in Alaska.
He worked at Diamond Alkali and Lubrizol before joining Fasson (Avery-Dennison) in Painesville as one of its charter employees. He retired in 1984 after 30 years. He traveled worldwide as Director of Technical Sales Service and did government contract work of a classified nature. He held 20 patents, including the product and equipment used to process the U.S. pressure-sensitive postage stamp, the tape tab for disposable diapers, and applications for the space shuttle.
A private pilot for 52 years, he established Pheasant Run Airport in Leroy Township in 1977 and operated it with his wife Gretchen. He was proficient in 72 models of aircraft and collected and restored antique airplanes on site in Leroy. Starting in 2005, he and Gretchen began efforts to establish Pheasant Run as a non-profit (501) aviation museum intending that it eventually would become public.
“Chuck” belonged to BPOE Lodge 549 in Painesville, the United States Aviation Museum, and the Experimental Aircraft Association. He was an advisor for the International Women´s Air & Space Museum at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland. In the 1960s, he was chief pilot for Lake County Disaster Services. He donated many flights for charity fund raisers, the , and youth groups. He flew search and rescue for local police and fire departments and did parade openers and fly-bys for community and historical celebrations. The CAP, school groups, scouts and aviation enthusiasts from all over the world visited Pheasant Run for seminars and tours.
He and the airport appeared on television in news and feature segments and also in a privately produced documentary, “The Restorers,” which appeared on PBS.
He was inducted in 2003 as an honoree at the International Forest of Friendship, an aviation hall of fame in Atchison, Kansas. He was a 2007 inductee of the Harvey High School Alumni Hall of Fame.
Chuck died Dec. 23, 2008, and was survived by Gretchen and son Scott.
Gretchen taught English at Riverside High School (RHS) from 1967 – ´95 after two years of teaching at Mentor High School. She established an aviation ground school at RHS in ´69, which she taught until her retirement. She and her husband gave young people hundreds of airplane rides. Gretchen Reed has been a trustee of the RHS Alumni Association since joining the group in 2015 and has been its secretary since ´17.
She began an avocation in journalism while at Toledo University and, upon graduation, returned to Lake County in ´65, where she was certified as an adjunct reporter for the Painesville Telegraph, to which she contributed articles and photographs from 1966-´77. At RHS, she was advisor to the student newspaper for ten years and school newsletter writer for 20+ years. She is now copy editor for the newly-launched alumni association’s on-line Log.
In 1977 she and husband Charles began developing Pheasant Run Airport and Aviation Museum on 68 acres they had purchased in LeRoy Township. After his death in ´08, she and her ex-student and close friend Chris Joles began expanding the facilities and organizing the antique airplanes and artifacts until the place became a formal museum. It now includes a collection of classic cars as well. It has become a “community center,” hosting a variety of events and visitors that number into the thousands.
Gretchen has been a licensed private pilot since 1968 but is now inactive due to medical interruptions. She serves as secretary and volunteer for LeRoy Heritage Association and is a trustee and frequent volunteer at the International Women’s Air and Space Museum at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.
She was inducted into the RHS Hall of Fame in 2001 and the International Forest of Friendship Aviation Honorary in ´03 and was named a “Woman of Achievement” by Lakeland Community College in ´17.
Christopher Joles, a lifetime resident of Lake County, was born in 1961 and grew up in Leroy Township. His parents, Clarence “Bucky” and Nancy Joles, instilled a strong work ethic in him. Chris as a teenager began repairing cars at home and then worked on tractors, lawn care machinery and motorcycles. An early history in building model airplanes was how his fascination with aviation began and was greatly enhanced by his sixth grade teacher, Trent Norris, and by Chuck and Gretchen’s friendship from when he was a student his sophomore year in her aviation class at Riverside High School.
Chris joined the volunteer Junior Firefighters´’ Program in Leroy. Both his mother and father were volunteers at the fire department, his mother being an emergency room nurse and the first woman firefighter in the county. Chris was heavily involved in Leroy activities until 1980 when he joined the Navy after graduating from school. Most of his Navy duty was in Nevada, where he earned a degree in propulsion engineering.
Chris´ first job after returning from the Navy was at Lake City Metal Processing in Painesville, of which he took over ownership. Several years later, he closed that business and became an auto technician and managed Mentor All-tune and Lube for ten years. He earned eleven certificates in automotive repair. In ´05 he completed work on his own front-engine dragster and won first place at Thompson Speedway the first time he competed. In ´06 he built a LaDawri Conquest kit car, a 1958 design.
Shortly after Chuck Reed died in ´08, Chris moved to Pheasant Run and began intensive work on aircraft, earned a sport pilot´s license and built a CGS Hawk II light sport airplane. He then built another light sport plane, a Titan Tornado. Counting the flight time he had with the Reeds and the solo time in his two aircraft, he had logged nearly 800 hours by ´14. He also has always loved boating and fishing and has refurbished several recreational boats and their engines since residing at Pheasant Run. He has a reputation among his friends as being a master of engine rebuilding and repair of all kinds.
Chris took over management of the airport in ´09; he and Gretchen worked together to make it an aviation museum based on the aircraft collection Chuck had amassed before his death. Chris works with Gretchen on accessions, strategic planning and organization of interns, volunteers and work crews. Between them, they keep 36 acres of grass mowed. Chris is responsible for building and equipment maintenance, security, overseeing the preservation of about 28 aircraft and working on several more airplane projects. As Pheasant Run´’s reputation has grown, it has also become home to several vintage cars that are part of the tours and events that take place there with Chris as the major “tour guide,” role model for young people, and cheerful ambassador for the museum.
Compiled by Gretchen Reed