In Memoriam: Charles M. Geschke, USF Chair Emeritus

Dear USF Community,

Many of you may have seen the local, national, and international news accounts over the weekend that Chuck Geschke, USF Board of Trustees chair emeritus, died peacefully on Friday after a difficult year. He was 81. He would not have wanted all this attention. A humble giant in every aspect of his life, he and his Adobe co-founder, John Warnock, transformed desktop publishing and developed the Portable Document Format, or PDF, groundbreaking technology when it was introduced in 1993. Adobe grew from 12 employees when it was founded in 1982 to more than 22,000 employees today. He attributed the success of Adobe to his underlying philosophy of always hiring people smarter than himself and creating a corporate culture such that he would want to work there. Chuck retired in 2000 but continued to serve on Adobe’s board until 2020. In 2009, he and Warnock received the National Medal for Technology and Innovation.

The articles written about Chuck since his passing remind us of his deep Catholic faith and that he was a product of both a Jesuit education and, as a novice scholastic, a Jesuit spiritual formation before discerning that his personal vocation included the sacrament of marriage. In 2012, Chuck and his wife, Nan, were honored by the National Catholic Education Association and received its highest award, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award. He and Nan gave generously to Catholic organizations through their foundation. USF has indeed been a beneficiary of their generous philanthropy for several decades.

Chuck also offered his many talents and precious time to USF. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1990 and their daughter Kathy graduated from USF in 1991. In 1997, the Nancy A. and Charles M. Geschke Learning Resource Center was dedicated and provided an additional 36,000 square feet of space for study. He served on the board through 2002 and then returned in 2003 to serve as chair from 2003 to 2007. He remained on the board until 2008. In 2010, he was named the inaugural Rev. P. Carlos Rossi, S.J. Chair in Entrepreneurship, dedicated by USF alumni C. Alan Wall and Robert Wall, M.D., in honor of their uncle. In 2014, he received an honorary degree from USF. He attended and spoke at many USF commencement ceremonies, the last in 2017. Throughout the years, he was a guest speaker in many MBA classes. He and Nan also joined with USF alumnus Gordon Getty in matching gifts for several endowed chairs.

Throughout the many news accounts of Chuck’s passing, his wife of 56 years, Nan, recounts what Chuck viewed as his greatest accomplishment in life — his family — and that he viewed himself as the “luckiest man in the world.” They are the parents of three adult children and grandparents to seven.

Initial arrangements have been made for a funeral mass on Friday, April 23. Rev. Steve Privett, S.J., will concelebrate and offer the homily. We will share the final details and streaming options, if available. Notes of condolence for the Geschke family may be sent to the USF Office of the President.

Please join me in expressing our deepest condolences to the Geschke family. 

Paul J. Fitzgerald, S.J.