John B. Funk, oversaw construction of Beltway

March 18, 1993|By Rafael Alavrez | Rafael Alavrez,Staff Report

John Benjamin Funk, a former Maryland secretary of state who oversaw the building of the Baltimore Beltway as head of the State Roads Commission, died of heart disease Tuesday at Hanover General Hospital in Pennsylvania. He was 87.

Services for Mr. Funk, a civil engineer who served in the Maryland General Assembly, will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Keeny and Bassford funeral home, 106 E. Church St., Frederick.

Before he died, Mr. Funk instructed his family to have the words "public servant" chiseled on his tombstone.

Born in Hillsborough, Va., Mr. Funk was the son of a homebuilder.

He graduated from Brunswick (Md.) High School in 1922, where he learned to play the slide trombone, an instrument he would later use to entertain audiences up and down the East Coast with the Potomac Club Orchestra, a big-band swing group.

In 1926 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa with an engineering degree from Washington and Lee University.

After college he returned to Brunswick, where he served as city engineer from 1929 through 1984 while holding various state and other positions. Hewas co-founder of the Brunswick History Commission.

His first job out of college was with the American Bridge Co. in Frederick.

He represented Frederick County as a Democrat in the General Assembly, first in the House of Delegates from 1935 to 1938; and then in the state Senate, from 1939 to 1946.

Mr. Funk was named secretary of state in 1947 by Gov. William Preston Lane.

For eight years during the 1950s he was chief engineer for Baltimore County before being named chairman of the Maryland State Roads Commission by Gov. J. Millard Tawes.

During Mr. Tawes' administrations from 1959 through 1966, Mr. Funk directed every major highway project in Maryland, including the Baltimore Beltway, and oversaw the opening of Interstate 95.

After retiring from public service in 1967, Mr. Funk spent several years as an engineering consultant.

Described by his family as outgoing and gentle, Mr. Funk loved to fish on the Potomac River. He was also a 50-year member of the Masonic Lodge.

In 1927 he married the former Doris Dindore, who died in 1953. Shortly thereafter he married Evelyn Robinson Funk of Towson, who survives him. Mr. Funk is also survived by two sons, John Demory Funk of Sykesville and Harry Bruce Funk of Smithsville, N.J.; and one grandchild.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to the Frederick County Chaper of the American Heart Association.

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