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NEWS | Jan. 27, 2015

Former NSWC Crane Commander Dies

By NSWC Crane Public Affairs

January 27, 2015

CRANE, Indiana - The Crane community is saddened by news of the recent death of a former commanding officer, Retired US Navy Captain Charles LaSota.  The Bloomfield resident, who led Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane Division (NSWC Crane) from July of 2008 to Oct. of 2011, passed away Monday, Jan. 26 after struggling with pancreatic cancer. 

NSWC Crane Commanding Officer Captain Jeffrey Elder said LaSota was a man of integrity who set the bar high for future commanders. “When I took command last year, I was fortunate to follow in the footsteps of strong past leaders such as Charles LaSota.  He was an asset to Crane, the Warfighter and the nation,” Elder stated.

LaSota’s time as commanding officer of NSWC Crane was his second assignment at the base—during his first he served as the deputy director of ordnance engineering.  NSWC Crane Technical Director Dr. Adam Razavian noted that his love of Crane was both obvious and commendable. “Captain LaSota was a dedicated naval officer who was very devoted to Crane,” Dr. Razavian explained.  ‘He specifically requested to return here as commanding officer, and every day of his command was characterized by a high level of concern and attention to detail, whether he was focusing on people, ideas, or technology.”

Department Director of the Global Deterrence and Defense Department Ben Harkness praised LaSota’s brilliant engineering mind and zeal for being in the middle of the toughest technical problems.  “He had that unique ability to very quickly grasp a technical problem and then provide the technical leadership as solutions were developed and implemented,” Harkness explained.  “He was often assigned to programs and commands that were working on some of the nation’s most critical defense systems and programs.  His success made him well suited to lead NSWC Crane, and he helped propel Crane into many national leadership roles in Strategic Missions, Special Missions, and Electronic Warfare.”
Shortly after passing leadership of Crane to Colonel Alan Pratt, LaSota became president of Crane’s Career Learning and Employment Center (CLEC) Board of Directors and helped match the nation’s wounded warriors with new careers.  He was also the president of the Hoosier Trails Council for Boy Scouts of America and a strong supporter of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.  Harkness noted that he personally mentored many high school and college students pursuing technical degrees.  “Captain LaSota believed strongly in ‘paying it forward’”, he recalled.  “He often told me ‘one starfish at a time’ when it comes to instilling a passion for the sciences in our younger generation.”

LaSota enlisted in the Navy in 1976, beginning as a nuclear reactor operator on board a submarine during the Cold War and serving for 35 years.  He gained his commission after being selected to participate in the Navy’s Enlisted Commissioning Program and earning a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.  Later, he completed Masters’ degrees in Electrical Engineering/Computer Science and Nuclear Engineering and obtained a Technology MBA.  His final naval tour was as the 25th commanding officer of NSWC Crane.

LaSota’s most recent position was president of the Battery Innovation Center (BIC) located at the WestGate Technology Park.  The BIC is a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing together world-class resources from industry, academia, and government agencies to accelerate the development and commercialization of advanced battery solutions.
He is survived by his widow, Teresa (Overton) LaSota of Bloomfield, his stepson Jason (Toby) Pridemore of Bloomfield, his stepdaughter Audra (Nelson) Stoll of Loogootee, and his son Matthew (Melissa) LaSota of Plainfield, IL.  His grandchildren include Aiden, Braylen and Caitlyn Pridemore, Parker, Addison and Cole Stoll, Matthew and Ava LaSota and Nicole and Allison McCoy.  His father Dennis LaSota of Volo, IL and mother-in-law Winona Overton of Odon also survive, along with brothers Richard and Peter and sisters Carol and Suzi.  His mother Margie and father-in-law Kenny preceded him in death.

No services will be held, but a memorial fund has been established with the Boy Scouts and contributions may be made in LaSota’s memory at: Hoosier Trails BSA, LaSota Memorial Fund 5625 E. State Road 46, Bloomington, IN 47401.