Stephen M. Meginniss II, 84, Air Force colonel, engineer

January 07, 2002|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Stephen Mason Meginniss II, a retired Air Force colonel, engineer and college instructor, died Thursday of heart and kidney failure at his home in Southland Hills in Towson. He was 84.

Family members described him as a humanist, avid reader and a man who possessed a delicious appreciation of the absurd.

"Every Thanksgiving he would carve our family turkey with a captured German bayonet from the war," said his daughter, Margaret Meginniss Secor of Monkton. "We kids in the family loved that but mom didn't care for it."

Mr. Meginniss grew up in the Ashburton section of West Baltimore and graduated from Forest Park High School in 1935.

At Forest Park, Mr. Meginniss met Frances Hoffman and married her before he entered the military. The couple had celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary Oct. 4.

He attended University of Maryland but was drafted during World War II. He later earned a bachelor of science degree in 1952.

During World War II, he served as a radar officer in the Army Air Corps, which later in the war became the Army Air Forces. He flew as a radar officer in B-29s in the North African and Italian campaigns and installed bomb-sight equipment in Allied aircraft.

He received the Legion of Merit for a radar bomb scoring device he developed. It remains in use today.

Later in his career, he served several years at Itazuke Air Force Base in Japan, where he commanded a radar installation atop Mount Subiriyama on Kyusha during the Korean War.

While in Japan, he cultivated a deep interest in Japanese culture and people. Mr. Meginniss was presented a letter of gratitude in 1956 by the Fukuoka prefectural government for his volunteer work with the Japanese population.

During his career, Mr. Meginniss and his family moved 17 times.

He retired in 1961 as a lieutenant colonel and embarked on his second career as an engineer at Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade. Mr. Meginniss retired from that job in 1970.

He then worked from 1972 to 1977 as an assistant instructor in the physics department at Towson State University.

"My father always enjoyed learning, and he took a lot of classes at the university," Mrs. Secor said. "Just being around young people made him feel good, challenged."

He had a great love for animals, especially his dogs Andy and Phred-D, and he had built an array of bird feeders for his back yard where he could be entertained for hours watching birds.

Mr. Meginniss was adept with electronics and built his family's television sets. He also enjoyed computers and was a member of Bug Bytes, a Columbia-based computer club.

He typically read four or five books a week, and he maintained a keen interest in world events and politics.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Towson Presbyterian Church. The family requests contributions be sent to the Hospice of Baltimore, 601 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21204.

In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include two sons, Stephen Mason Meginniss III of Seattle and James Regester Meginniss of Tuscon, Ariz.; another daughter, Mary Ellen Abetz of South Riding, Va.; and seven grandchildren.

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