WWII vet, SDSU benefactor Charles Hostler dies

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Charles Hostler (San Diego State University)

SAN DIEGO — Charles W. Hostler, who conducted clandestine missions in World War II, served as ambassador to Bahrain during Operation Desert Storm and was a benefactor of San Diego State University, has died at 94, the school announced Monday.

The retired Air Force colonel, who will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, supported SDSU over the last two decades. He endowed the SDSU Institute on World Affairs, funded a fellowship program and supported the university’s Joan and Art Barron Veterans Center. In February, SDSU dedicated Charles Hostler Hall in recognition of the couple’s $3 million gift to support international studies.

Hostler, who died Sept. 28, will be laid to rest beside his father, Sidney, an Army officer who served in World War I. A celebration of his life will be held on the San Diego State campus later this year.

After he left Bahrain, he met and married Chinyeh Rose, a Taiwanese native and SDSU alumna, according to school officials. He became an adjunct professor of political science and helped secure prominent speakers for the Institute on World Affairs, which is named in his honor.

“Charles Hostler was a visionary and a true American hero,” SDSU President Elliot Hirshman said. “His passion for international affairs and international collaboration left an indelible mark on our campus’ academic and co-curricular programs. His influence will be felt by generations of students, faculty and staff to come, and we are deeply grateful for his support and his leadership of our efforts to internationalize our campus.”

Hostler was born in Chicago in 1919, but attended boarding school in England and learned to speak French. That led to him join the Office of Strategic Services — the forerunner to the Central Intelligence Agency — during World War II.

His OSS missions took him to Utah Beach on June 6, 1944. In 2004, he was chosen by the French government to represent the United States during the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the D-Day landings. French President Jacques Chirac presented him with the French Legion of Honor in the presence of 17 heads of state in Normandy, France.

He is survived by his wife. His son, Charles Hostler Jr., died previously.