Nicholas Charles Burke Mudd Sr., 75, engineer designed Maryland bridges

June 25, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Nicholas Charles Burke Mudd Sr., a prominent structural engineer who designed some of the most notable bridges in Maryland, died Tuesday of complications of diabetes at his North Baltimore residence. He was 75.

According to colleagues, he saw beyond the simple utility of a bridge's function -- carrying traffic over water, highways or railroads -- and viewed it as a work of art, wrought of imagination, steel and concrete.

His first major project was helping design the original 4.3-mile Chesapeake Bay Bridge, which opened in 1952. He was chief designer on the second parallel Bay Bridge, which was opened to traffic in 1973.

"As chief designer, he was in charge of not only the superstructure, but also the substructure or foundations of a bridge. The entire project was his responsibility," said Murray Miller, vice president of geotechnical services at URS/Greiner, a Timonium engineering firm, and a friend for many years.

"His bridges were functional as well as artistic. He spent a great deal of time designing proportions of a bridge to achieve something that was pleasurable to the eye," Miller said.

He also said Mr. Mudd derived a great deal of satisfaction from his visits to the field to check on the progress of a bridge he had designed.

Other notable bridges for which Mr. Mudd was chief designer included the Millard Tydings Memorial Bridge across the Susquehanna River and the 1.6-mile Key Bridge, which opened in 1977.

His design of the Summit Bridge over the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal in Delaware won him an American Structural Engineering Award in 1960.

Mr. Mudd, who was known as Chuck, began working for J. E. Greiner Inc. in 1942 -- with time out for service in World War II -- while studying engineering at Johns Hopkins University, where he later earned bachelor's and master's degrees in civil engineering in 1949.

He spent virtually his entire career at Greiner and retired as a vice president in 1992.

His last assignment for Greiner required a three-year stay on the West Coast, where he established the firm's office in Pleasanton, Calif.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Winchester, Va., Mr. Mudd graduated in 1941 from Handley High School.

He was a great-great-nephew of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, who was imprisoned for setting John Wilkes Booth's leg in his Charles County farmhouse after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.

During World War II, Mr. Mudd served in the Army Air Corps as a B-25 pilot and flew 51 missions in the Pacific Theater. He was discharged as a second lieutenant in 1945.

He was a member of the Johns Hopkins Club and a former president of the Engineering Society of Baltimore and the Consulting Engineers Council of Maryland.

In 1982, he was appointed by Gov. Harry R. Hughes to the Professional Engineers Licensing Board of Maryland, a position he held until 1986.

He enjoyed duck shooting and fishing on the Eastern Shore and golfing.

He was a communicant of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St., where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, the former Mary Virginia Battle; four sons, Nicholas Charles Burke Mudd Jr. of Reston, Va., John Battle Mudd of Baltimore, Edward Ralston Mudd of New Canaan, Conn., and David Hamilton Mudd of Washington; two daughters, Ginger Mudd Galvez and Ann Stuart Darrell, both of Baltimore; two brothers, John Edward Mudd of Towson and David DeSales Mudd of Fernandina Beach, Fla.; three sisters, Marie Hettinger of Yakima, Wash., Louise Dobler of Hunt Valley and Virginia Rhett of Martinsburg, W.Va.; and 11 grandchildren.

Pub Date: 6/25/98

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