Rawlings, Martin Marietta executive

V. R.

September 02, 1995|By DeWitt Bliss | DeWitt Bliss,Sun Staff Writer

Vernon R. Rawlings, who was vice president of the Martin Marietta Corp. and general manager of its Baltimore division, died Wednesday of complications of Parkinson's disease at Blakehurst Life Care Community, where he lived.

Mr. Rawlings, who was 83, retired in 1976.

In 1939, he went to work in the experimental department at Martin Marietta's Middle River plant. He became a vice president and head of the local division in 1963 after spending his career at Middle River with the exception of one assignment.

From 1959 until 1963, he was in Denver as head of the company's Activation Division, leading construction of underground silos for Titan I and Titan II missiles in the West. He also was responsible for the installation and flight readiness of the missiles.

In 1963, the Air Force gave him an award for his "outstanding contribution to the deterrent strength and security of the United States and the Free World." It was one of several Air Force and National Aeronautics and Space Administration awards that he won.

In 1992, William Purdy, who had been head of engineering for the Titan missiles, told the author of a book on Martin Marietta that Mr. Rawlings "was incredible" and that he understood "the politics of admitting a mistake and making mileage out of it."

He said Mr. Rawlings would admit a mistake instead of being defensive and tell the Air Force he was going to "work like hell to fix it," which he promptly did.

The author, William B. Harwood, retired Martin Marietta vice president for public relations, described Mr. Rawlings as "a tough, tough man as far as getting people to do their job." But he said Mr.Rawlings was a "loveable guy," who would tour the plant greeting workers by name and asking specific questions about their families.

Harry C. George, retired manufacturing manager of Martin's Orlando (Fla.) Division who rode to work with Mr. Rawlings when they were young, described him as having a "phenomenal memory."

He said Mr. Rawlings would ask about his wife and three sons by name 25 or more years after meeting them.

Mr. Rawlings was a longtime baseball fan who would invite Orioles players to lunch at the plant.

The Baltimore native was a graduate of Polytechnic Institute and attended the University of Baltimore.

He was involved in many military and commercial airplane projects at Martin Marietta and his work on rockets and missiles included production of the Titan II launch vehicles used in the Gemini space flights.

He was fond of photography, travel and boating and served as head of a 1967 U.S. Savings Bond drive in Maryland.

Services were to be held at 1:30 p.m. today at Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St., where he had been a trustee.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Doris V. Lowdenslager; and a daughter, Nancy Jean Rawlings of Towson.

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