Ollie E. Jenkins, a land surveyor who worked on many major construction projects, including the building of Columbia in Howard County, died of lung cancer Saturday at his Ocean City home. He was 79.
Mr. Jenkins retired in 1977 as assistant manager of land development for the Rouse Co., which he joined in 1966. Before then, he worked for Albert E. Pohmer, who owned the company that bore his name.
Mr. Jenkins surveyed the land on which Harundale Mall in Anne Arundel County and the Northwood and Mondawmin malls in Baltimore were built. He worked on the renovation of Pimlico Race Course, where "he discovered the finish line was a foot off and had to be relocated," said his son, Ron Jenkins of Severna Park.
Other projects he worked on included the broadcasting tower atop Television Hill, the studios for WBAL, WMAR and WJZ television stations, and the Lake Avenue home of the late James Rouse, developer of Columbia.
"He was the best surveyor I ever heard of -- the man could !B survey anything," said Walter Park, an engineer with LBE Inc. in Columbia, who first worked for Mr. Jenkins in the mid-1940s.
"It made no difference to him whether it was a railroad, a housing development, highway or subdivision," said Mr. Park, an Irvington resident.
Tall and rugged, with what seemed to be a permanent suntan, Mr. Jenkins more than made up in hard work and determination what he lacked in education.
He was born in Etley, Va., and completed his early education there. He moved to West Baltimore in the early 1930s and studied engineering through a correspondence course while working as an apprentice cabinetmaker.
About that time, Mr. Jenkins was recommended to Mr. Pohmer, who was looking for someone with potential to be a surveyor. He worked for Mr. Pohmer's company until the family closed it in 1966.
Mr. Jenkins would turn on the headlights of his Jeep Wagoneer to continue to survey a project after sunset. He gave in to weather only when rain blurred his penciled calculations.
"Once he had that tripod on his shoulder, he was out the door and hard to keep up with," Ron Jenkins said.
Mr. Jenkins also enjoyed researching old records and learning all he could about a site.
"He had an incredible insight. It was amazing what he could find in the ground," recalled Mr. Park.
"We'd be digging for a monument and about ready to give up and he'd say, 'Keep digging, boys. Keep digging.' He could find old monuments that had been buried 3 feet deep in the ground for a hundred years," Mr. Park said.
Mr. Jenkins "was a tough but fair boss, and we spent many enjoyable days in the field together," said Bob Dowling, a retired surveyor for Albert E. Pohmer.
"All of us who worked with Ollie fell in love with engineering because of him. He loved his work and was a good example of what an engineer should be," Mr. Dowling said.
Mr. Jenkins, who formerly lived in Uplands, served as a topographic surveyor for the Army Air Forces in Chile, helping design airfields from 1945 to 1946, when he was discharged.
He enjoyed fishing, hunting, boating, playing poker and horse racing.
He was a member of the Maryland Yacht Club, the Air Force Association, the Uplands Community Association and KOA Motor Home Travel Club.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Loudon Park Funeral Home, 3620 Wilkens Ave.
Other survivors include his wife of 57 years, the former Virginia "Ginny" McKewin; another son, Greg Jenkins of Olney; three granddaughters; and three great-grandchildren.
Pub Date: 8/06/97