Charles Kayhart

October 14, 1911October 26, 2020

Charles Kayhart celebrated his 109th birthday on October 14th before passing away on Monday, October 26, 2020. Born Charles Clifford Kayhart in Bloomingdale, New Jersey in 1911, he was the son of Charles Kayhart and Viola Decker Kayhart.

He is the widow of Ann Kayhart, who passed away in November 2006. They were married 70 years.

Mr. Kayhart has 3 children: Clifford Kayhart (deceased), Susan Mallini of Lexington, SC and Pam Kayhart Fyffe of Atlanta, GA; 3 grandchildren: Justin Fyffe of Hollywood, CA, Jennifer Lauer of Chapin, SC, Kristen Hazen of Atlanta, GA and 5 great grandchildren.

Mr. Kayhart fell in love with radio and baseball at a young age. In 1920, at the age of nine, he built his first radio. A varsity baseball player in high school, his team won the Blass B championship of the state of New Jersey. At 17, he became a runner on Wall Street; then worked for New York Telephone Company where he parlayed his love of engineering into several positions up the ladder until he hit as far as he could go without a college education.

Already building a Heathkit airplane in his family’s basement, Cliff decided to choose Tri State University in Indiana, where he could study aeronautical engineering. He graduated with a degree in that subject in 1934. After graduation, Cliff got a job with RCA in New Jersey and became a quality control manager. From there Mr. Kayhart was made service supervisor of Philco Radios, then with Bendix Aviation in the aircraft instrument division in New Jersey. From there Mr. Kayhart went into the ARMY Signal Corp and went to Harvard MIT to study radar. Then Mr. Kayhart was assigned to the Air Corp stationed at Robbins Field, Georgia and from there he was assigned to go abroad to Hawaii and join the 31 16th Signal Service Battalion with headquarters at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. From there Mr. Kayhart went to Iwo Jima where he was Commanding Officer of installing the administrative radio station for Iwo Jima. After spending 6 months in Iwo Jima, he was ordered back to headquarters in Fort Shafter. While waiting for his air transport back he witnessed the Enola Gay flying overhead to Hiroshima to drop the atomic bomb. He would become Commanding Officer of the inter-island radio station on Maunakapu. In 1946 Mr. Kayhart left the military as a Captain and returned to civilian life. He then went on to design an instrument for the Federal Government and from there he joined Magnavox in 1947 as their first field engineer. As this time, Magnavox was going to manufacture televisions. After serving many positions, the first service training director, he was eventually assigned to a new department in Greeneville, Tennessee called the Customer Acceptance Department. Mr. Kayhart traveled to Japan in 1963 in search of Japanese television. Mr. Kayhart retired from Magnavox in 1976.

He was a member of Dutch Fork Amateur Radio Group and was the oldest actual ham radio operator in the world, the oldest surviving Iwo Jima veteran and 8th oldest living US male. He was also the oldest man on the SC Honor Flight trip to D.C.

Mr. Kayhart said, “Coming to Greeneville was one of the finest things I ever did. I enjoyed working with the people in Greeneville. And I decided that this would be my home for the balance of my life.”

He moved to Columbia, SC at the age of 103.

A private family service will be held at a later date.


Charles Kayhart

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Paul Melton

November 3, 2020

Although I did not know Cliff in person I was honored to have met him on the 40-meter band. What a privilege to talk to this awesome man. I was saddened to know of his passing. I wish I could have talked to him more as he had great stories to tell. Sending prayers to the entire family. He will be missed for sure. RIP Cliff, hope you have your dream station up in heaven. It was an honor for me each time we talked.

Jim Chow

November 2, 2020

It was a great honor to have known Cliff.
We are so fortunate to have him in all of our lives. As a friend and fellow combat veteran.
A great American!

Cindy Wallace/Fred Dolder

November 2, 2020

Pam and Susan, We feel like our families (Wallace/Dolder) in Greeneville were entwined together, with our fathers working together, our mothers playing bridge together, our GHS school days together. Fun romping around Tusculum Heights together, dads working on ham radios together. Charlie/Cliff was truly a super amazing man, who had such an adventure of a life, from Iwo Jima to South Carolina. He was an inspiration to all that knew him or even knew of him. His legacy will live in our memories forever. Our hearts go out to you in this time of loss. Please know that we will make a donation to our favorite charity in his memory. C&F

Phil Bachman

October 31, 2020

Susan & Pam,
I remember Cliff fondly & am honored to have known him. My deepest sympathy is with you and your family during this difficult time.


October 30, 2020

I did not know Cliff personally, I'm a ham radio operator KI4YTV. Cliff checked into my net many times and I always honored him with VIP status being the oldest active ham. We will be having a tribute to him tonight. W4KKP 73's

Lynn Wythe

October 29, 2020

My mama, Norma Brown, lived down the hall from Mr. Cliff in Haltiwanger. I sat with him at dinner one evening and he told me about the Enola Gay flying overhead.
A gentle, brilliant and engaging man. My sincere condolences to his family and the care team at Lowman. A life well lived!

Carol Elliott

October 29, 2020

I loved Mr. Cliff. He was my friend and I will always cherish the precious memories that we shared. The most memorable one was sitting in his room watching him talk to everyone all over the world, on his radio.
My heart is broken, but my sweet memories will help heal my heart.
He was a gentleman and my favorite veteran.
I salute you Mr. Cliff one more time as you spread your Heavenly wings and fly.
I love you,

Myra Johnson

October 29, 2020

Pam and Susan, I was so sorry to hear of your father's passing. You were so blessed to have him with you all these years. Sending prayers and hugs during this sad time.❤🙏

Kyle Waddell

October 29, 2020

I was Mr Kayhart mailman for many years. One day I came by and at 100 years old he was working on his push lawnmower. He ask me if I had any plans when I got off from work I said no why?He ask if I would take him to Lowe’s and he said I believe I will get a self propelled. I told him I would and that he deserve it.

Connie Ricker-Smith

October 29, 2020

Pam and Susan,

Prayers for you both during this difficult time. I just recently lost my 99 year old Dad -Arthur Ricker Sr. from Tusculum Dad was a World WarII Veteran, and Dad worked at Magnavox . You both had wonderful parents. Blessings to you both.

Connie Ricker-Smith