Eddie B. Tombs Sr., a retired supervisor of engineering training for the State Highway Administration and a neighborhood activist, died Tuesday of lung cancer at St. Agnes Hospital. The Woodlawn resident was 63.
He retired in 1990 after 33 years with the Maryland agency. He began his career as an engineering technician with what was then the State Roads Commission.
He became one of the first blacks appointed to that job when Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin interceded on his behalf in 1957, said Mr. Tombs' wife, the former Willie Tinkler, whom he married in 1954.
John Harris, who worked with Mr. Tombs for more than 30 years, said, "He was very dedicated to both his family and the highway administration, where he did cost estimates. He had been involved with the preliminary planning of some big projects like the Baltimore Beltway, Interstate 70 and the National Freeway. He enjoyed those jobs in Western Maryland, and that's how he got his nickname, 'Mountain Man.' He loved that rugged country out there."
Born and reared in Norfolk, Va., Mr. Tombs moved to Baltimore in 1951. After serving in the Navy in 1951 and 1952 as a seaman, he earned his high school diploma at Dunbar High School in 1953. He attended what were then Morgan State College, Baltimore Junior College and Bay College.
He lived for many years in Forest Park, where he was president of Concerned Citizens of Forest Park and of the Liberty Elementary School PTA. He also was a member of the Seton Planning Committee, the Afro-American Clean Block Program, Camp Concern, the Baltimore Neighborhood Basketball League, the Baltimore Summer Corps and Free Lunch Program, and the Police Community Relations Council.
"He believed in education and had strong family values. He tried to inspire and help people," his wife said.
He collected jazz recordings and enjoyed singing in the male chorus of Rising Sun First Baptist Church, where he was a deacon.
Services will begin at 1:30 p.m. today at Rising Sun Church, 2211 St. Lukes Lane, Woodlawn.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Eddie B. Tombs Jr. of Randallstown and Eric G. Tombs of Woodlawn; two daughters, Stacey Tombs of Catonsville and Sharel Tombs of Woodlawn; and seven grandchildren.
The family suggested memorial contributions to the Denise Tombs Scholarship Fund, c/o Willie Tombs, 2107 St. Lukes Lane, Woodlawn 21207.