C. Rodgers Kines, 72, aviator who later overcame blindness as ad salesman

October 03, 2001|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

C. Rodgers Kines, a retired naval aviator who later overcame blindness and established a second career as an advertising salesman, died Saturday of congestive heart failure at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Lutherville resident was 72.

On a foggy December evening in 1970, Mr. Kines was driving on a Montgomery County road and struck a tree. His eyeglasses shattered and destroyed his vision.

During his four-month rehabilitation at the Veterans Administration Blind Center in West Haven, Conn., he learned to type and organize daily routines.

"He possessed an indomitable spirit," said William Volenick, a friend from Ellicott City. "I was with him the night the ophthalmologist told him there was nothing that could be done. He said, `I sort of figured that.'

"He was never dominated by his blindness. He just picked up and moved on," Mr. Volenick said.

When he completed his rehabilitation, he returned to his job at Fairchild Industries in Germantown and completed a master's degree in business administration at George Washington University.

More than 20 years ago, he began a career selling newspaper advertising space by telephone for Bethesda-based CustomNEWS Inc., a firm that publishes convention newspapers.

Family members said he ran his Lutherville office with an old Royal manual typewriter and several tape recorders. With an hour or two of secretarial help a week, he became a successful salesman.

"He was my company's first full-time employee. He was a real workhorse. You could send him a list of 100 prospective clients, and he'd contact them all," said Ross E. Heller, president of CustomNEWS. "He was an extraordinarily talented individual. I don't think any of his clients were aware he wasn't sighted."

Family members said Mr. Kines had a lifelong passion for flying. As a boy, he built model planes. In the last week of his life, he had conversations with friends about the aerospace field.

"He dreamed of flying from the time he was a little boy," said his wife of 45 years, the former Barbara Newman. "He'd still wake up in the morning and say, `I logged some really great flight time last night.'"

The native Baltimorean was raised in the 2500 block of Guilford Ave. and was a graduate of SS. Philip and James Parochial School, Loyola Blakefield and Loyola College, where he earned a bachelor of science degree in 1949.

He earned his aviator's wings in the naval cadet program at Pensacola, Fla., and flew bombers out of North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego. He was released from active duty in 1956 but joined a reserve anti-submarine warfare squadron. During tense periods in the Cold War in the early 1960s, he was recalled to active duty.

He told family members that during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, he flew a crew on patrol missions in the Caribbean.

He retired from military service in 1970 with the rank of commander.

He served on the boards of Blind Industries and Services of Maryland and Friends of the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. He was named Outstanding Marylander with a Disability in 1998 by the state legislature.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, 2801 N. Charles St.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Dwight Rodgers Kines of Towson and Robert Sullivan Kines of Tampa, Fla.; a daughter, Deborah Kathleen Kines of Beltsville; a brother, Donald S. Kines of Cockeysville; a sister, Jacqueline Moran of Hockessin, Del.; and six grandchildren.

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