Chuck Crawford

Chuck Crawford - Kimball Physics
Chuck CrawfordIn the 1960s, Dr. Charles “Chuck” Crawford, then a physics teacher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was persuaded that going into the consulting business paid better than being a professor. He teamed with a colleague and they both left MIT.

 “He went to California (for a multi-million dollar job) and I haven’t seen him since,” Crawford said. “MIT wanted me to stay. As soon as I got my doctorate, they made me a full professor.”

Eventually Crawford incorporated his own company as Kimball Physics ( He moved it into a barn on a piece of property in the Kimball Heights Section of Wilton that his family has owned since 1801, and started hiring people.  But over the years he has kept his close relationship with the physics department at the school.

Kimball PhysicsKimball Physics is a high technology consulting and light manufacturing firm.

Crawford mentioned they produce particle optics, high voltage power supplies, and high energy accelerators for hospitals, among other products. He said he has always enjoyed experimenting and developing the one-of-a-kind instrument or project that larger firms decline.

 “We still do custom work which sometimes leads to commercial products.” said Abigail LePage, the current president and CEO of the company, who participated in the phone interview with Chuck.

 When he founded the company he had a private plane, and trained a few students who wanted to learn. He also held a commercial pilot’s license.

 In 2014, Kimball Physics purchased the Wilton Falls Building in downtown Wilton to use as storage. The industrial building, located at the confluence of Stony Brook and the Souhegan River at one end of Main Street, dates to the 1890s.

 “I needed the storage,” Crawford said, adding that at the time he was concerned that a prospective buyer could use it for purposes “not compatible with downtown Wilton.” He added, “I want to do what’s best for the town.”

 While renting space to various businesses, he has provided rent-free space in the building for the Open Cupboard Food Pantry, and for several years for the Second Glances thrift shop operated by the Second Congregational Church.

The DummyAnother project, championed by Crawford in 2014, was the restoration of the light on top of  “The Dummy,” the signpost at the junction of Main Street and Route 31. It had been vandalized, and its blinking light broken. Crawford reproduced the light using pictures. It flashes red on one side, amber on the others. The repair of the light was part of a general restoration of the tin-sided post which had weathered and was rusty. The date of its installation is not known, but there are pictures of it taken in the 1920s. It is one of very few left in the state, installed as automobile traffic was increasing and some controls were needed.

 “My mother said it was a nice thing and she liked it,” Crawford recalled. Fixing it, he said, “was an easy job.” The Dummy is now surrounded by a traffic island full of plants maintained by the Wilton Main Street Association, which also helped spearhead the overall restoration of the Dummy. Its name is derived from the original “Dumb Policeman,” meaning “silent.”

 Another of his fun side projects involved providing the movie “The Terminator” with a high tech prop. “They contacted me,” he said. “They wanted an electron gun. They built a copy of my lab out in Hollywood and my employees liked it better than ours, so I had to make some changes.”

 Over the years, LePage said, the company has “produced some really good products that Chuck designed, many of which are still used.” “Don’t forget cathodes for scanning electron microscopes,” Crawford added. He has also kept a close association with the physics department at MIT, and NASA has been included among their clients.

 LePage said the company now has about 70 employees.

 Crawford is currently living at Summerhill in Peterborough while he completes a course in physical therapy to improve his walking. Crawford said the physical therapy has been successful. “They got me walking again,” and now he is ready to come back.

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