George W. McCarty, 84, executive, inventor, engineer at Black & Decker

September 30, 2001|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

George W. McCarty, an inventor and retired Black & Decker Corp. executive who saw some of his cordless creations left on the moon, died of Parkinson's disease Thursday at Blakehurst Life Care Community in Towson. He was 84 and lived for many years in the Lutherville area.

At heart, Mr. McCarty remained a draftsman and tool-and-die maker, said his son, Dennis McCarty of Parkton.

"He never lost his hands-on engineering skills," he said. "He had a full workshop in his home, and he was always working on a project."

Although Mr. McCarty's case of Parkinson's was diagnosed 17 years ago, the disease did not become debilitating until the past few years.

During his 35 years at Black & Decker, Mr. McCarty was the sole or principal inventor listed on 14 patents, including the cordless drill in 1961 and a keyless drill chuck in 1981.

"George was always a leader who pushed for new technology. He helped to bring about the world's first cordless tools," said Francis J. Rosenthal Jr., of Bel Air and Naples, Fla., a friend and former co-worker at Black & Decker.

After retiring in 1981, Mr. McCarty continued inventing, patenting ways of collapsing a 16-foot extension ladder to 4 feet.

The projects in cordless tools led the Martin Marietta Corp. to ask Black & Decker to develop similar tools for the U.S. space program in 1965, according to Mr. Rosenthal and a 1971 Black & Decker newsletter article.

For the Apollo program, the engineers in 1968 began developing a cordless power head for the lunar-surface drill, used three years later to bring back samples from the moon. "George led a team of people to develop the projects for outer space," Mr. Rosenthal said. "Those products in toto were made in Towson. ... They were left on the moon."

The work was fun, he said. "We had a great time together, the whole engineering team. George ... was a man who gained respect from the entire organization. He was really a role model for many of us."

Mr. McCarty began his career in mechanics and engineering in his native Philadelphia, where he graduated from the industrial course at Franklin High School in 1934.

During the next three years, he studied as a machinist and draftsman at the Williamson School, a free program in the mechanical trades in Media, Pa. Mr. McCarty later continued his education with courses in tool design and industrial supervision at the University of Maryland and the University of Pennsylvania.

At Williamson, he played football and baseball, and ran track. He was president of the school's Athletic Association and was awarded the Athletic Association Medal as a senior in 1937.

A few years after leaving Williamson, Mr. McCarty moved to Baltimore to work in the engineering department of the Glenn L. Martin Co., then served in the Navy in 1945 and 1946.

In May 1946, he began his career at Black & Decker, starting as a draftsman. His mechanical skills, coupled with an ability to work with people, led to his rapid advancement through positions as a tool designer, engineer, supervisor of mechanical engineering, foreman of the small-tools department, manager of the standards department, plant manager at Hampstead and chief engineer for the company.

In 1958, he was appointed vice president for research and development and in May 1974 was named vice president of corporate technology, the position he held until his retirement in July 1981.

Mr. McCarty was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. His civic activities included serving as president of the Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce, chairman and member of the board of directors of the old Lutheran Hospital, and a member of the board of Roland Park Place.

He was an elder and trustee at Towson Presbyterian Church, and he enjoyed hunting and deep-sea fishing.

William L. Jews, president and chief executive officer of CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield Inc., came to Lutheran Hospital as vice president in 1979 and became president about a year later, while Mr. McCarty was chairman of the board.

"He had a quiet way of providing leadership, and his business acumen was above reproach, and his sincerity and care for people was always clear," said Mr. Jews.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his son, Mr. McCarty is survived by his wife, the former Frieda Martha Betz, whom he married in 1941; a daughter, Sharon McCarty of Towson; two brothers, Raymond McCarty of Marlton, N.J., and Harry McCarty of the Boston area; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

The family suggested contributions to the Williamson School, 106 S. New Middletown Road, Media, Pa. 19063.

Sun researcher Jean Packard contributed to this article.

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