Robert B. Boyle Sr., 75, civil engineer on major area projects

January 12, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Robert Bruce Boyle Sr., a retired civil engineer who helped design a system for supplying drinking water to Baltimore during emergencies, died Sunday of a heart ailment at his home in Tuscany-Canterbury in North Baltimore. He was 75.

Mr. Boyle worked on public works projects, such as the highway interchange where the Washington Beltway connects with Interstate 270 near Bethesda; the conversion of the former pyrolysis plant into Baltimore Resco Inc., a garbage-to-energy facility on Russell Street south of the PSINet Stadium; and the water tower near the Five Farms property of the Baltimore Country Club in Lutherville.

"He was a man who really felt his obligations - as a citizen, to his family and as a neighbor," said Nancy Struever, a retired Johns Hopkins University professor and friend. "He possessed a sense of composure and commitment."

In the early 1960s, while working for Whitman Requardt & Associates, Mr. Boyle helped create an alternative water source for the rapidly developing Baltimore region - tapping the Susquehanna River as a backup for the Loch Raven and Liberty Dam watersheds.

Working with other engineers, he devised a plan to place fresh-water pipes under Interstate 95, which was then under construction. Gravity carried the water pumped from the Susquehanna by buried pipes to the Lake Montebello Filtration Plant in Northeast Baltimore, where it could be treated and distributed to 1.8 million customers in the city and nearby counties.

This system, completed in 1965, has been called upon several times, most recently in summer 1999, when water levels in local reservoirs were low.

"My father was pleased that what he'd help build was finally being used," said a son, Dorsey Boyle of Gardenville.

In the 1970s, Mr. Boyle joined Harrington Lacy & Associates, from which he retired in 1988. There, he worked on such public works projects as waste-water treatment plants in Thurmont and Salisbury and the rebuilding of the Loch Raven Dam in northern Baltimore County.

In the 1960s, he spent time at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., where he designed waste-disposal systems for space capsules.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Boyle was a graduate of Archmere Academy in Claymont, Del., where he initially showed little interest in mathematics. He credited one of his teachers with piquing his interest in using numbers to solve problems. He later studied engineering at the Johns Hopkins and Cornell universities.

During World War II, he was a gunner on a Navy landing ship tank that ferried troops to beachhead landings in the Pacific Ocean. He participated in the campaigns in the Marshall Islands, the Marianas and Philippines. He was discharged with the rank of petty officer.

He witnessed heavy combat, family members said, but declined to talk about it after the war.

In his retirement, he collected stamps and coins and enjoyed boating on the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1949, he married Charlotte Oles, who survives him.

Funeral services are private.

In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two other sons, Robert Bruce Boyle Jr. of Millers and Edward Key Boyle of Baltimore; and a granddaughter.

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