Henry Dunning Jr., 90, drug firm vice president

March 02, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Henry Armitt Brown Dunning Jr., retired vice president of Hynson, Westcott and Dunning and a champion archer, died Sunday of multiple organ failure at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 90 and lived at the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville.

Mr. Dunning, a former longtime resident of Riderwood who was known as Brown, headed the chemistry department of Hynson, Westcott and Dunning, a former Baltimore pharmaceutical manufacturer, from 1934 until he retired in 1972.

His father, Henry Armitt Brown Dunning Sr., was one of the founders and later chairman of the board of the company, which was established in 1889 and moved in 1922 to its landmark headquarters building at the southeast corner of Charles and Chase streets, near the Belvedere Hotel.

The business was perhaps best known for Mercurochrome, the mild red antiseptic that it developed in 1918 and later marketed. For generations of children, the product, which didn't sting like Merthiolate, was almost a rite of passage in treating minor wounds.

The business was sold to Becton, Dickinson & Co. in 1971, and Mr. Dunning retired the next year.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Dunning grew up on Greenway in Guilford. He graduated in 1927 from Friends School and earned his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in chemistry from the Johns Hopkins University in 1934.

An athlete who had run track and played football at Hopkins, Mr. Dunning became inspired to take up archery while sitting in a movie theater in 1938 watching Errol Flynn dash across the screen in "The Adventures of Robin Hood."

"He was so taken with the swashbuckling actor that he went out and bought his first bow for $7," said his daughter, Virginia D. Ridgway of Eastsound, Wash.

A tall man of medium build who remained in remarkably good physical shape until the end of his life, Mr. Dunning was a member of the Oriole Archers and vigorously pursued archery until last year.

"It's a sport that requires focus, concentration and muscular control," said his son, Henry Armitt Brown Dunning III of Parkton.

"He competed in all 18 Maryland Senior Olympics and at 89 was beating guys in their 20s," said William Stump of Glen Arm, a retired Baltimore newspaperman and a member of the Oriole Archers.

Quiet and well read, Mr. Dunning enjoyed doing New York Times crossword puzzles and assembling antique Parr wooden jigsaw puzzles, which he had collected since childhood.

He also maintained a deep interest in opera and operettas and enjoyed watching classic Hollywood black-and-white adventure and swashbuckling movies.

His marriage to Eleanor Beck ended with her death in the late 1940s. In 1952, he married Virginia Jessop, who died in 1993.

Services for Mr. Dunning will be held at 11 a.m. today at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his two children, Mr. Dunning is survived by two granddaughters.

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