AAFS Distinguished Fellow Charles J. Stahl III, MD: Retired Fellow of the Pathology/Biology Section, March 2016


Dr. Charles J. Stahl III, age 85, Retired Fellow of the AAFS Pathology/Biology Section, passed away on March 1, 2016, in Johnson City, TN, after a progressive illness. 

Son of Myrtle Esher Stahl and Charles J. Stahl, Jr., Dr. Stahl was born in Philadelphia, PA. He was raised in Harleysville, PA, where he was a lifeguard and the town’s first Eagle Scout and graduated from Souderton High School class of 1948. Dr. Stahl graduated from Ursinus College, Collegeville, PA, in 1952 and graduated from Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia in 1956 as a Doctor of Medicine.

Dr. Stahl was commissioned as an Ensign in the United States Navy, Medical Corps, in 1953 and served for 27 years, retiring as a Captain (06) in 1980. Dr. Stahl became the United States Navy’s first forensic pathologist in 1962, serving at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital and on the Island of Guam. He became the Chief of Forensic Pathology, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, where he led many medicolegal investigations, including the deaths of the three NASA astronauts aboard Apollo I and the Robert F. Kennedy assassination. An expert on ballistics, he consulted with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). He was the Chairman of the Department of Laboratory Medicine at the National Naval Medical Center, Bethesda, MD. During his service, Dr. Stahl received many military honors and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, and the Navy Unit Commendation. Dr. Stahl is honored at the Johnson City-Washington County Veterans Memorial, Johnson City, TN.

After retirement from the Navy, Dr. Stahl was appointed Chief of Laboratory Service at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Johnson City, TN, Assistant Chief Medical Examiner, State of Tennessee, and Professor of Pathology at the Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University. Dr. Stahl was honored for his service to law enforcement by Resolution of the Johnson City Board of Commissioners and appointed an Honorary Captain with the Johnson City Police Department in 1985.

Dr. Stahl continued to serve the Department of Veterans Affairs as the Chief of Staff of the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Dayton, OH, Deputy Medical Inspector for the Department of Veterans Affairs, and concluded his 40-year career as the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, Washington, DC, from 1992 to 1996. Dr. Stahl received the Department of Veterans Affairs Distinguished Career Award, the AAFS Pathology/Biology Section’s Milton Helpern Award in 1994, and was named an AAFS Distinguished Fellow in 1995.

Dr. Stahl authored journal articles and served on numerous professional boards, panels, and associations during his career, including the Thomas Jefferson University Board of Trustees and past president of the National Association of Medical Examiners. He was inducted into the Souderton High School Hall of Fame in 2008 and recognized as the 2000 Ursinus College Annual Alumni Award honoree.

Dr. Stahl is survived by his wife of 62 years, the former Ellen Carolyn Baran; his son Charles and wife Janet, Johnson City, TN; daughters Marcia and husband John Scott, Dagsboro, DE, Kim and husband Walt Dryfoos, Allentown, PA; and grandchildren Shane and wife Karine Scott; Troy Scott, Victoria and Joseph Stahl, Christopher and Nicholas Dryfoos; and sister Joan Stahl Pusey, Palm, PA; and nieces and nephews. Dr. Stahl will be interred following a graveside service with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.