John Crisci Orlando, 86, Martin-Marietta foreman

September 17, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John Crisci Orlando, a retired Martin-Marietta Corp. foreman who used discarded stones from city streets to construct a graceful wall that spanned the yard of his Hamilton home, died Tuesday of congestive heart failure at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 86.

A trained machinist, Mr. Orlando began his career at the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River in 1939. A year later, he was promoted to foreman of the tool and die department's 2,200 employees.

He retained that position until he retired from Martin-Marietta in 1975, then took a similar position with Flynn & Emrich, a Baltimore iron-casting company.

Mr. Orlando retired again in 1983.

"He was regarded by his co-workers as a dedicated employee who did his work with commitment and total precision," said a son, Dr. Joseph C. Orlando of Towson. "It was said of him that there was not a machine that he could not construct or fix."

In the basement of his Hamilton home, where he had lived since 1942, Mr. Orlando had a workshop full of machinery, including a lathe and band and circular saws.

He built additions to his home and helped friends and family add decks and additions to theirs.

"He prized his tools, and the entire cellar was devoted to repair work," his son said. "He could fix every major or minor household appliance, and he never called an appliance man in nearly 60 years. When the washing machine motor went up, he simply replaced it, and it ran another 20 years."

One day in the early 1950s, Mr. Orlando noticed a pile of discarded cobblestones and Belgian blocks piled near Northern Parkway as part of a road improvement project.

After obtaining permission to take the stones, he began stockpiling them in his yard.

"Dad couldn't bear to see them tossed out and decided to build a wall with them," Dr. Orlando recalled. "He'd drop me off at Northern Parkway, where I was responsible for making a pile of the stones. He'd return, and we'd pile the stones into the trunk of his green Kaiser-Fraser, and we'd unload them back at our house on Orlando Avenue.

"One day, he dropped me off, and I picked up the stones and then went to visit a friend," the son said. "When I returned to meet him, the stones were gone, and he wondered what the heck I had been doing."

When completed, the wall was 3 1/2 feet high, stretched 100 feet and was topped with Pennsylvania flagstone.

Mr. Orlando added other stones and rocks that he picked up on trips between Baltimore and Reading, Pa., where he was born and raised.

As the oldest of seven children, he worked as a barber until he graduated in 1932 from Reading High School. He attended Wyomissing Polytechnic Institute in Reading.

He was married for 65 years to Evelyn Gladys Heckman, who survives him.

Mr. Orlando was a communicant of St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church in Hamilton, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday.

He is also survived by another son, John A. Orlando of Hamilton; two daughters, Juliette A. Baker of Ellicott City and Evelyn J. Huber of Abingdon; 15 grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.

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