Harold B. Bending, 70, sold stainless steel products, bred trout, planted trees

January 01, 2002|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Harold Bruce Bending, a steel products businessman whose intelligence and eccentric personality were highlighted when he twice read a set of encyclopedias from cover to cover, died Saturday of an illness related to Parkinson's disease at his Bel Air home. He was 70.

Mr. Bending was born in Toronto, where he graduated from New Liskeard High School three years early, at age 15. In 1950, at age 19, he earned degrees in English and engineering from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

In December 1950, he married his college sweetheart, Marilyn Lee Patchen, as he began working for a division of U.S. Steel Corp. in Cleveland. In 1969, Mr. Bending moved to Baltimore to work for Armco Steel Corp. He retired in 1989 as a senior development engineer.

Mr. Bending spent much of his career selling stainless steel products, traveling throughout Baltimore with the products in the back of a truck.

"The truck was never empty," said William E. Nuttall, 67, a longtime friend. "He would have anything from mattresses to rain gutters and stainless wire products. Some of those things were 30 feet long.

"The police stopped him one time and told him he had to do something about all of these things hanging off his truck."

Mr. Nuttall said it was unusual for a steel products salesman to lug samples around with him, but he said Mr. Bending wasn't typical.

"He was very eccentric," Mr. Nuttall said. "He said, `I'd rather be remembered as an eccentric than not to be remembered at all.' He was quite a character."

In 1989, Mr. Bending co-founded O.F. Industries, another Baltimore steel products sales company. He continued with the company until 1995.

Mr. Bending bred trout in the back yard of his home. He also loved planting trees and other vegetation.

"Every place he lived, there's now a forest because he had this obsession with planting trees," said his daughter Gail A. Bending of Hunt Valley, a WJZ television news director.

Ms. Bending recounted the story her mother told her about how her father twice read a set of World Book Encyclopedias from cover to cover in his youth.

"He was a really smart person because he knew everything about everything," she said.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Bending is survived by another daughter Kathy E. Woodward of Bel Air; a brother, Glen R. Bending of Corvallis, Ore.; and three grandchildren. Another daughter, Linda K. Roberts, died in 1983.

Visitation will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at McComas Funeral Home in Bel Air. Services will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Bel Air, with interment afterward at the church's cemetery.

Contributions may be made to the Humane Society of Harford County, 2208 Connolly Road, Fallston 21047, or to Mount Zion United Methodist Church, 1643 Churchville Road, Bel Air 21015.

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