Charles “Chuck” Patrick O’Regan, executive director of operations for Facilities Management Services, died on March 9. He was 62.
O’Regan oversaw approximately 320 employees in operations and maintenance for the University Park and Health Sciences campuses. His more than 36 years at USC began with a senior electrician position, and included leadership roles such as electric shop foreman, construction manager and associate director of Operations and Maintenance. As executive director of operations, O’Regan implemented a Zone Maintenance program and developed a Pay for Skills program to allow tradespeople and technicians to increase their salaries through training and skill assessments.
O’Regan was born in Park River, North Dakota, and studied electrical technology at Valley City State College in North Dakota. He served in the U.S. Army from 1969 to 1970, stationed in Korea, and then received an associate’s degree in electrical engineering from Long Beach City College. Before working for the university, he worked for the Long Beach City School District and local contracting firms in the Long Beach area.
O’Regan was also known for his love of golf and served as President of the Board at the Candlewood Country Club in Whittier.
Operations and Management Project Manager Greg Desario said his 18 years working with O’Regan involved frequent travel around the country, where the two often joked with each other.
“He always knew how to pack, and I didn’t understand how he could get all his clothes into one bag,” Desario said. “I used to joke with him about his clothes being little.”
Desario stressed O’Regan’s dedication to the university, even when he was stressed or tired.
Whenever O’Regan traveled, he had to change chain-of-command notification in case of an emergency at USC. When Desario and O’Regan went on a Thursday through Saturday trip to Las Vegas because O’Regan wanted to recharge and relax, Desario found out O’Regan had told the university to resume his notification position as soon as he came back to Los Angeles late Saturday night. Desario then asked O’Regan why he didn’t wait until Monday.
“He said, ‘Greg, people find comfort in knowing that I am here,’” Desario said. “I never really understood how true that was until he was gone.”
Desario said there’s a somber mood in the FMS office without O’Regan and that he feels the absence.
“We would go and have dinner if we were staying late or had a function in the evening,” Desario said. “Before his memorial service, I was getting ready to pack up and grab some dinner so I looked over at his office door and wondered if he’s ready to go.”
Robert Cuthill, a zone supervisor, said it was an honor to work for O’Regan for 16 years.
“Anybody would be fortunate to have worked for Chuck. There aren’t a lot of people like him,” Cuthill said. “He never made you feel like he was your boss. You wanted to get things done because it was him.”
Cuthill said O’Regan was supportive of all his staff, and his effort to be a friend and a co-worker put him at ease.
“He got me through my divorce and when my house burned down,” Cuthill said. “I was a wreck and he stepped in and helped me through it.”
While Cuthill stressed the skill and dedication of all FMS management, he said O’Regan was the heart and soul of the department.
“In FMS, the managers and directors are great and you can see where it comes from,” Cuthill said. “You don’t have that without someone special like Chuck.”
He said O’Regan’s hard work inspired others to do their best, which helped everyone in the university.
“If something needed to be done, he’d step in and make sure it happened. Chuck was dedicated to this school and put his all into it,” Cuthill said. “That’s why everyone throughout the university loved him.”
Vilma Perez, his assistant, said O’Regan was like a big brother during the 15 years she worked with him.
“He was always there to listen to you, even if it was a small little story,” Perez said. “He was all ears all the time.”
She said his positive energy inspired her. When she asked him how he was doing, he would say, “I’m doing good with the joy of being here.”
At the end of the day, Perez said O’Regan made her laugh with the way he said goodbye: “Elvis is leaving the building.”
O’Regan is survived by his wife of 26 years, Melanie, his daughters Amy Salter, Janis Lake, Heather Wilson and Whitney, and his son, Ryan, as well as his eight grandchildren: Samantha, Madison, Laney, Travis, Charlie, Grant, Jack and Lucy. He was the youngest of three, survived by his brother James O’Regan of Owatanna, Minn., and his sister, Mary Wickes of Bismarck, N.D. FMS plans to hold a memorial service for the USC community in the near future.