Bayard Webster, 82, editor at Evening Sun, writer

May 03, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Bayard Webster, a former Evening Sun assistant city editor who later wrote about the curious behavior of animals for the New York Times, died Sunday of heart failure at Heron Point Retirement Community in Chestertown. The former Eutaw Place resident was 82.

After eight years as an Evening Sun reporter and editor in the 1950s, he joined the Times, where he was a reporter, assistant metropolitan editor and assistant director of science news. When he retired in 1985, he was a science writer who specialized in wildlife, the environment and animal behavior, writing stories such as "Elephants Have Language Inaudible to Humans" and "Guile and Deception: the Evolution of Animal Courtship."

"He had a reputation as being quite a good desk man [editor]," said Russell Baker, former Times columnist and Masterpiece Theatre host who knew Webster when he was the assistant to The Evening Sun's city editor. "It wasn't easy to get to the New York Times in those days."

While working for The Evening Sun, he also wrote a Harper's magazine article, "The Rise and Fall of the University of Maryland," which detailed academic conditions at the school.

Born in East Orange, N.J., Mr. Webster attended Wesleyan University from 1936 to 1938 but dropped out when his father died.

He worked in New York as a Needham, Harper and Steers advertising copy writer before and after World War II. He later said that "trying to get people to brush their teeth or dress their hair with our client's products was not the most fulfilling job in the world" and quit. He took a job at the Greenwich, Conn., Time for several years in the 1940s before moving to Baltimore.

Mr. Webster enlisted in the Navy before Pearl Harbor was bombed, and he later trained as a pilot in the Chesapeake Bay. During World War II, he was a Navy lieutenant and flew Grumman Hellcats and Corsairs from the flight decks of aircraft carriers Independence, Essex, Intrepid and Shangri-La.

Between 1943 and 1945, he made as many as three flights a day -- lasting two or three hours each -- in eight major engagements in the Pacific theater.

He was in the Solomons-Guadalcanal campaign, the invasion of the Marshall Islands and the first carrier-based raid on Japan during the invasion of Okinawa.

He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and Air Medal with Silver Star, the Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon and the Philippines Liberation Ribbon with Silver Star.

In 1951, he married Martha Millspaugh, a descendant of the Samuel Kirk family of Baltimore silversmiths. She survives him.

A memorial service will be held 11 a.m. Saturday at Heron Point, 501 E. Campus Ave., Chestertown, where Mr. Webster moved in 1994. He watched birds and taught adult education courses.

He is survived by two sons, Kirk B. Webster of Middlebury, Vt., and Anthony Coates Webster of New York, N.Y.; a daughter, Jacqueline Webster Harwood of Bethesda; and two grandchildren.

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