Frederick M. Himes, 75, television executive

September 21, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Frederick McCoy Himes, a longtime Baltimore television executive, died of cancer Saturday at Joseph Ritchie Hospice on Eutaw Street. He was 75 and lived in Mays Chapel.

A television and radio engineer, Mr. Himes had a 40-year career in Baltimore broadcasting. He was a pioneer in FM radio and UHF television broadcasting and trained several generations of radio technicians.

"Fred was a fellow who didn't like to do any one thing too long," said Harry R. Shriver, general manager of WCBM Radio. "He was industrious and spent a lot of hours working. He did a good job in the UHF medium when it was just coming of age."

Born in Charleston, W.Va., Mr. Himes was 9 years old when his family moved to Northwest Baltimore. He graduated from Forest Park High School in 1943 and immediately enlisted in the Army during World War II. He served for a year before he received a medical discharge.

During the 1940s and 1950s, he was a radio engineer at WFBR Radio at 10 E. North Ave. and also worked as an engineer on the Project Gemini space exploration program at Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River.

During this period, he met Ju-lian S. Smith and, with a group of investors, they bought the old Commercial Radio Institute, a school in the first block of W. Biddle St. The school operated WFMM Radio, one of the city's first FM stations.

Mr. Himes was program director and vice president of WFMM -- now WPOC -- until it was sold in the early 1970s.

Mr. Himes' and Mr. Smith's company operated WBFF-TV, Channel 45, a UHF station that went on the air April 11, 1971. Mr. Himes was the station's vice president and director of operations.

A 1971 article in The Sun said that he " is reported to put in 95-hour weeks."

At that time, Channel 45 was known as the tele-movie station because it aired many black-and-white film classics; a children's program, "Captain Chesapeake"; and reruns of "Lassie," "The Patty Duke Show," "Lost in Space" and other series.

Mr. Himes and Mr. Smith expanded their broadcast reach into Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio.

In 1986, Mr. Himes sold his interests and retired as executive vice president of Channel 45.

"He was an early player and great asset to the start of the business," said J. Duncan Smith, a vice president and son of the founder of what is now Sinclair Broadcasting Group.

In 1987, Mr. Himes founded Highgate Corp., a property management company based in Towson. He was president at the time of his death.

He also developed the Hindman-Lockhart Foundation, which helps Episcopal parishes that wish to retain the traditional form of worship. He also set up information and communication systems so these parishes could keep in touch with one another.

He graduated with a degree in history from the Johns Hopkins University in 1958, enjoyed reading and was a World War II history buff.

Mr. Himes was a founder of St. Stephen's Traditional Episcopal Church, Mays Chapel and Jenifer roads, Timonium, where a memorial service will be held at 2: 30 p.m. tomorrow.

He is survived by a sister, Carolyn Williamson of Pomfret Center, Conn.; a friend, Oda Mae Martin of Baltimore; six nephews; and a niece.

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