Industry Pioneer Chuck Kirschenmann Passes Away

Industry Pioneer Chuck Kirschenmann Passes Away

BAKERSFIELD, CA - It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Charles Kirschenmann, known lovingly as Chuck, who went peacefully at his home surrounded by family on August 17, 2023, in Bakersfield, California.

“He had a really good sense of humor,” Christy Hornbuckle, Chuck’s daughter, shared with AndNowUKnow, recalling some of Chuck’s classic takes. “He would always say, ‘Come back when you can’t stay so long.’ He also said, ‘If you don’t earn the money, you can’t appreciate how to spend it,’ and, ‘It is necessary for us to learn from other people’s mistakes because you will not live long enough to make all of them yourself.’”

Chuck was one of two children born to Arnold and Florence Kirschenmann on May 12, 1946, on his grandfather Emil Kirschenmann’s 50th birthday. Upon graduating from Bakersfield High School in 1964, Chuck attended Fresno State University, where he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. In 1963, at the age of 16, Chuck lost his father unexpectedly.

“He was thrown into farming at a very young age, unfortunately, when his father passed away in the 1960s,” Chuck’s son, Brian Kirschenmann, shared with KGET. “He carried a big personality.”

The loss propelled him to move back to Bakersfield before finishing school in 1967, so he could join his brother Arnold in running the family farming business.

Chuck and Arnold built an agriculture empire, growing predominately potatoes, carrying on the legacy of his father. Their success quickly became admired and respected throughout the community. Chuck spent 55 years as a proud Kern County farmer. When he lost his brother and partner, Arnold, 23 years ago, he continued with the Kirschenmann Farms legacy, including his three children at different stages along the way.

When Chuck returned to Bakersfield, he married his wife Katie (Jones) Valentich in 1967.

Before starting his family, Chuck joined the National Guard and was drafted into the Army in 1968. He was called to duty on a special operation and was honorably discharged the next year. Chuck loved his country and spent much of his life honoring patriots like himself.

Christy noted to KGET that, “[He was] very witty, very outspoken. Definitely made an impression wherever he went.”

Together, Chuck and Katie had their three children, who were his ultimate pride and joy.

Chuck lived and breathed farming, but his most important legacy was his children and grandchildren. He was extremely proud of all three, taking any opportunity to boast about their varying accomplishments. With the birth of his first grandchild 15 years ago, Chuck began to shift from a protective dad to an adoring grandfather.

Chuck’s larger-than-life personality filled the room quickly. He had a charisma that drew those around him to take a seat and enjoy more. Chuck’s witty sarcasm left those in his company laughing out loud. Yet what was in his heart left the most lasting impression. He was kind-hearted, exceptionally generous, and deeply devoted to those he loved.

Chuck shared the last 18 years of his life with his best friend and partner, Lindsay Carey. Her love and friendship brought a new chapter for Chuck filled with travel, friendships, and a new extended family for Chuck to enjoy between Bakersfield and Indiana.

Chuck is joined in heaven by his loving parents, Arnold and Florence Kirschenmann, his brother Arnold Kirschenmann, and his eldest son Scott Kirschenmann, for whom the Kirschenmanns started a foundation to honor.

Chuck is survived by his son Brian; his daughter Christy and husband Matt; his six grandchildren, Chase, Clara, and Annabelle Kirschenmann, and Georgia, Faye, and Nora Hornbuckle. He is also survived by his beloved partner, his best friend, and his ‘Angel,’ Lindsay Carey.

Services will be held at Hillcrest Memorial Park on Wednesday, August 30, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the National Veterans Foundation, the Scott Kirschenmann Family Foundation, or Maui Nui Strong.

Read more about Chuck Kirschenmann’s legacy here.

In loving memory of a revered man, devoted father and grandfather, and outstanding friend, we share our gratitude for his life and our sympathies for this loss.