November 29, 2021 | Bill Esler
Troutman, NC—Charles “Charlie” Rudolph Onsrud, 90, founder of C.R. Onsrud USA and twice winner of the IWF Challengers Award, passed away Sunday, November 21, 2021.
Onsrud, who died following complications from knee replacement surgery, was born August 26, 1931, in Chicago, IL, the son of the late Rudolph F. Onsrud and Angeline M. Onsrud. A graduate of Lane Tech High School, he studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University, and later served in the U.S. Army, based in Japan during the Korean War.
Before and after his military service, Onsrud worked for his father at Onsrud Machine Works in Chicago, where he engineered and sold furniture manufacturing machinery, traveling frequently to North Carolina, and moving to Statesville, NC in 1964 with his wife, Nancy (deceased 1969), and three sons. There he worked at Garrison Machinery selling the Onsrud machines.
In 1971, he married Jane Julian of Winston-Salem, and loving the water, moved to Lake Norman, NC. It was at a drafting table in his boathouse that Onsrud designed and sold his first patented Inverted RouterTM, a revolutionary design that increased safety and usability.. Five years later this boathouse startup was formally launched as C.R. Onsrud Inc., Troutman, NC.
Virtually every aircraft built for the U.S. war effort in WWII had parts made on Onsrud routers. Most of those machines are still in use today. Almost every M-1 rifle stock built in the Springfield Armory was made on an Onsrud machine. It is difficult to walk through any major furniture plant worldwide without finding an Onsrud machine in service. The 1976 patent for the “Inverted Router™” was an idea and a machine that revolutionized the woodworking industry, increasing safety and usability.
Onsrud was a two-time winner of the IWF Challengers Distinguished Achievement Award® (1978 and 1980) for distinguished achievement in the advancement of furniture and woodworking industry; The Baldwin Award from WMMA for most exemplary leadership and outstanding contributions to the millwork industry; Partner of the Year Award from the Woodworking Machinery Distributors Association (WMDA), and President’s “E” Award for excellence in expansion of US exports.
Though he formally retired in 1996, turning the reins over to his sons, he still came to the office most days to visit the production floor, ask about the new technologies, chat with employees, and watch the company grow. He also served a term as director on the Board of Wood Machinery Manufacturers of America (WMMA).
In addition to his wife, Onsrud is survived by three sons: Tom (Shelley) of Mooresville, Bill (Betty) of Mooresville, John (Amelia) of Union Grove; six grandchildren: Alyson Onsrud Strickland (Michael), Jeff Onsrud (Jennifer), Kelly and David Onsrud, James and Nancy Onsrud; four great-grandchildren: Charley and Jack Strickland, and Eva and Harrison Onsrud. He is also survived by his sister, Carolyn O’Brien of Illinois. He is preceded in death by two sisters, Shirley Lind and Lenore Erickson.
A Celebration of Life service was held Wednesday, December 1, 2021, at First Presbyterian Church in Statesville. A private family burial will be held at a later date. Memorials may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Shriners Hospital for Children, the American Heart Association, or to a charity of your choice. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.troutmanfuneralhome.com
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