McLean, Virginia and former longtime Falls Church City, Virginia resident Charles Robert Langalis died on July 4, 2018. The cause was cardiac arrest; he was 88. Born May 19, 1930 in Port Washington, New York, he was the younger child of the late John Michael and Isabel Natalie Langalis. He attended public schools in New Canaan, Connecticut and Fairfield Preparatory School in Fairfield, Connecticut, and graduated from the Latin American Institute in New York City in 1952 with an A.A. in Commercial Public Relations. He later continued his undergraduate studies at American and George Washington Universities while in Washington, D.C.
Medically diagnosed since childhood as legally blind due to congenital low vision, Langalis’s professional life began in 1950 at NBC in New York City. During that time, the post-war Office of Strategic Services (OSS) in Washington, D.C., renamed in 1947 as the Central Intelligence Agency, was expanding and in 1952 he answered the call for candidates with foreign language skills. A year later, a lingering hankering for the advertising world of Madison Avenue drew him back to New York, but it proved unsatisfying and he returned to the Agency for good in 1954, though his vision would limit him to positions at Agency headquarters.
In 1958, Langalis obtained a medical waiver for his poor eyesight, opening the way to serving 10 years in covert operations while posted in the capitals of Panama, Bolivia and Venezuela, followed by numerous temporary assignments elsewhere in Central and South America, the Caribbean, Western Europe, and Sub-Sahara Africa. During the Cold War years, Langalis’s fluency and precision in Spanish communications facilitated his developing an expertise in Cuban intelligence operations in Latin America and Africa. In positions of increasing responsibility at home and overseas, his work in the Directorate of Clandestine Services centered on influencing and advancing pro-Western interests in these regions, as well as devising and executing effective strategies for thwarting efforts by Cuban and Soviet Bloc elements to undermine democratic institutions.
Upon his formal retirement from the Agency in 1988, Langalis received the Career Intelligence Medal for Exceptional Achievements over his 35 years of service. His work with the CIA as a US-based independent contractor would continue for another five years. In full retirement, he remained active in Falls Church political, civic and community affairs including the city’s Democratic Party Committee, the Architectural Advisory Board, the Citizens Advisory Committee on Transportation, and he was a Spanish-language interpreter for both the Housing & Human Services Division, as well as Legal Services of Northern Virginia.
Langalis was pre-deceased by his wife of 57 years, Mary-Paget S. Langalis, who died in 2011, and an older brother, John, who died in 1984. Survivors include a son, Charles Andrew Langalis (Tamsen) and two grandsons (Christian and Andrew) of Rowayton, Connecticut; a daughter, Anne Elizabeth Langalis of Reston, Virginia; and a brother-in-law, Joseph Hal Shealy of Cambridge, Massachusetts. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 20 at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 2609 North Glebe Road, Arlington, Virginia (for directions and parking see stmarysarlington.org). In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in his name to the Wilmer Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins University, 600 North Wolfe Street, Suite Wilmer 112, Baltimore, MD 21287.