Anthony Baikauskas, 91, tool maker

August 03, 1998|By Jamie Smith | Jamie Smith,SUN STAFF

Anthony "Tony" Baikauskas, a retired Martin Marietta Corp. tool and pattern maker who designed parts for the Gemini 2 spacecraft and found a unique way to experience the world after two paralyzing strokes, died Thursday of congestive heart failure and pneumonia at Fallston General Hospital. He was 91.

At Martin Marietta, where he worked from 1942 until his retirement as a tool and pattern supervisor in 1972, Mr. Baikauskas designed aircraft parts that had to be accurate to the millimeter. He received many certificates of excellence for his superior work.

He was exempted from military service during World War II because his skill was needed for making fighter-plane components, and in the 1960s he designed parts for Gemini 2 -- one of a group of spacecraft meant to perfect techniques for a lunar mission. It was launched in 1966.

Attention to detail was also a part of Mr. Baikauskas' everyday life. "He was a perfectionist," said a daughter, Mary Taylor of Fallston. "He had to be, in his trade but he carried it through in everything he did."

Reflecting his desire to get things right, his trademark saying was, "What's the hurry?"

Mr. Baikauskas, who moved to Fallston about eight years ago, was a crossword puzzle enthusiast and refused to give up on one until he had it solved. A nature lover, he trained wild birds to sit on his shoulders and braved freezing temperatures in winter to fish.

He was also an avid citizens band radio user, especially after strokes in 1993 and 1996 left his legs paralyzed. "He did that every day of his life and into the night," said Mrs. Taylor. "He'd talk all over the world to people. Being paralyzed in his last five years, that was his way of communication."

Other CB users knew him as "Stogie-Man," a name he chose because he smoked cigars.

Born in Pittsburgh in 1907, Mr. Baikauskas left school at 13 to help support his family after his father died. He held various jobs in his hometown until the early 1940s, when he moved to Essex and used his training in tool and pattern making to land a job at Martin Marietta.

During the Depression, he spent his free time "hoboing" across the country, sneaking onto trains to get to states he had not yet seen. "Because of the time, the economy, that's the only way he would get to travel," said Mrs. Taylor. "He was an adventurer."

When he married Dorothy Martin in 1942, Mr. Baikauskas had seen most of the continental United States.

After retiring from Martin Marietta, he went on Caribbean cruises with his wife and visited Ocean City regularly. His last trip to the beach was two weeks ago.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at St. Mark Roman Catholic Church, 812 Reckord Road in Fallston.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Dorothy Hotem of Baltimore; three sons, Anthony Baikauskas of Baldwin, Martin Baikauskas of Brooklyn Park and James Baikauskas of Millersville; 13 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

! Pub date: 8/03/98

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