Samuel Shelley Darling, 86, C&P Telephone Co. engineer

April 11, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Samuel Shelley Darling, an engineer who designed and supervised the installation of the phone systems for One Charles Center and the Social Security Administration complex in Woodlawn, died Monday of leukemia at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 86 and lived in Cedarcroft.

He retired from Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. of Maryland in 1975, ending a career that began in 1939 as an installer. During World War II he was wire chief and manager of the Sparrows Point telephone exchange.

One of his more notable and interesting projects was completed during the 1940s, when he helped install telephone cable at Shangri La, now Camp David, which was Franklin D. Roosevelt's Catoctin Mountain presidential hideaway.

But his greatest accomplishment may have been the design and installation of the phone systems for One Charles Center and SSA in the 1960s, with their miles and miles of cable and thousands of telephones.

"They were certainly one of his larger projects and it was a real challenge," said his daughter, Mary Shelley Darling of Cedarcroft.

"They were complicated jobs," said Albert Lucas, a Woodlawn resident who met Mr. Darling in 1939 and worked with him on a C&P project in Western Maryland in 1950. "Not only did he have to estimate the number of lines that would serve the buildings, he had to plan on the number of phones required as well as potential growth and the needs of the future."

Born and raised in Waverly, Mr. Darling, who was a lifelong amateur radio operator, began building radios as a child, according to Charles Warner of Millsboro, Del., a boyhood friend.

"Sam was a highly brilliant fellow," Mr. Warner said.

Mr. Darling graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1928 and studied engineering at the Johns Hopkins University.

He collected antique Lionel Standard Gauge and other model trains, adding to a collection started by his father. For many years, he set up the annual model train display in the toy department of the Stewart & Co. department store downtown.

"He was a true workaholic who didn't believe in vacations," said his daughter. "He sent his family away on vacation each year while his consisted of working around the house."

He spent much of his spare time as a member of the maintenance crew at St. Mary's of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Govans, painting classrooms and doing other repairs.

Monsignor Thomas J. Tewes, former pastor of St. Mary's and now pastor of Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church in Dundalk, said, "Sam was a big man physically and had a big heart. He was a gentle and loving person who was certainly generous with his time."

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Mary's, 5500 York Road, Govans.

Other survivors include his wife, the former Mary Ellen Kochen, a former telephone operator whom he married in 1952; and several nieces and nephews.

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