PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Charles B. Fink, Providence architect and Professor Emeritus at the Rhode Island School of Design School of Architecture, passed away on Feb. 25 at the Philip Hulitar Hospice Center. Son of Moe and Betty (Cohen) Fink, known by most as Chick, he was a resident of Providence and Newport, graduating from Hope High School and attending Brown University where he was named a Francis Wayland Scholar. Chick transferred after freshman year to MIT to attend its five-year architecture program, where he won a six-month Skidmore, Owings and Merrill travel fellowship which he used to study and draw the architecture of Europe.
Chick worked full time until age 80, when one of his final projects was designing renovations for Belvoir Properties of several units in Rhode Island Hospital where he became a patient briefly during the design process. Architecture and art were so central to him that as recently as a few days before he died, he sat up and completed a drawing, from memory, of the Rhode Island State Capitol. Beloved by his clients who often became his friends, he was known to design an entire house on a matchbook cover in an hour. Architect of innumerable significant projects, his portfolio included home designs and renovations all over R.I., including homes along Ocean Drive in Newport; commercial buildings, hospitals, banks, public housing – an array of design projects, from renovating kitchens to designing cities. Each project was as important to him as the other, and each was born out of his respect for natural forms and environmental considerations.
Chick was an avid sailor purely for the aesthetics, pouring himself into restoring and sailing his old wooden ketch and his antique Chris Craft runabout. Rejecting modern boat electronics, he taught himself and others celestial navigation for the R.I. Power Squadron. He had a passion for music. He initiated an introductory survey course at RISD and studied the cello. Chick had served as editor of the MIT Lampoon humor magazine, where he refined the art of caricature in his cartoons. In recent years, Chick became a crossword puzzle aficionado. Of all his projects, he probably most loved his renovations of the Beechbound Carriage House in Newport where he resided for many years, alongside his co-owner clients who became dear friends.
Charles B. Fink is survived by his wife, Judith (Appelbaum) Fink, his daughter, Amy Fink Levine, and his granddaughter, Julia Rachel Levine. He is also survived by his loving brother, Michael Fink and wife, Michael W. Fink, sister-in-law, Ruth D. Fink and numerous nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his elder brother, Edward L. Fink. He is also survived by devoted and beloved friends.
Contributions in his memory may be made to The Providence Preservation Society, The Miriam Hospital, or Hallworth House.