Charles Stutz never let the business of the day bog down meetings of the Twin City Darts Association. As the group’s president, Stutz often brought impromptu levity to gatherings by telling jokes or bursting into song. In the process Stutz empowered members to take on leadership roles during his two terms lasting more than 20 years.
He exhibited those same qualities while working for the Nabisco Company, where he rose from an entry-level clerk to top manager of the former Cream of Wheat plant in northeast Minneapolis.
“He was very extroverted and very optimistic, and always had a positive outlook on life,” said his daughter, Christine “Nina” Stutz, of Coon Rapids. “He was the boss on the salary side of the office and dealt with unions … even with tough labor negotiations, and everybody liked him.”
Stutz died Jan. 9 of complications from a fall in which he fractured a vertebrae in July. He was 97. He had been living at the Ark on the River in Anoka in recent months.
Stutz grew up in Philadelphia and as a teenager went to work as an office boy for Nabisco. During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps (now known as the Air Force) and attended Washington State College for preflight training. He graduated in 1945, but never saw active duty.
After his discharge in 1946, Stutz returned to Nabisco and hopscotched around the country.
His final promotion in 1968 was his “dream job”of managing the old Cream of Wheat plant on Stinson Boulevard, a position he held until he retired in 1983, his daughter said.
Charles Stutz was a wicked pingpong player and earned the nickname “Fast Eddie Felson” for his pool playing. But his passion was darts, a game he learned from his father, she said.
He discovered the Twin City Darts Association through an article in a Twin Cities newspaper, and in 1975 became its 256th member. Even though he wrote righthanded, he threw lefthanded and with precision. Stutz was featured on KARE-TV (Ch. 11) in 2006, and his first shot in a match with the reporter was a double bull’s-eye.
Stutz was captain of the Stutz Bearcats darts team and served as the association’s president from 1984 to 1988 and from 1990 to 2006. He made sure the annual players’ banquet was held and was a master at getting other members involved, said Peter Jirik, Stutz’s longtime vice president.
“He was always in charge, but he didn’t have to be in charge,” Jirik said. “And he held them to task.”
Stutz was only the third person to be given a Lifetime Achievement Award in the association’s 41-year history. He considered the association as a second family, Jirik said.
“He loved the game and the people who played,” said Greg Oldenkamp, the association’s current treasurer. “Everybody had respect for him.”
Stutz was a hit at Jax Cafe in northeast Minneapolis where he liked to dine. He brought the staff to tears with his renditions of Cole Porter’s “My Heart Belongs to Daddy,” friends said.
Stutz was the crime prevention captain of the Riverwood Neighborhood Association in Brooklyn Center and planned National Night Out parties.
The city’s police chief recognized his volunteer efforts in 2009 with a letter of commendation.
“He liked to talk and he’d stop in all time to say hello, check on things,” said Becky Boie, the police department’s crime prevention specialist. “He was always my helper.”
In addition to his daughter, Stutz is survived by a son, Keith, of Brooklyn Center.