Fred Hittman, 73, founder of Columbia engineering firm

September 05, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Fred Hittman, whose engineering company was the first industrial business to locate in Columbia, died of pancreatic cancer Sunday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Pikesville resident was 73.

Born in Altenberg, Germany, Mr. Hittman fled the country with his family on the eve of World War II. They settled in Detroit, where he graduated from high school.

After earning a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1951, Mr. Hittman began his career as an engineer for General Electric Co. at its nuclear works plant in Hanford, Wash. In 1953, he became a research and development engineer in fission product utilization at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, N.Y.

Mr. Hittman moved to Baltimore in 1955, when he took a position in the nuclear division of the former Glenn L. Martin Co.

In 1962, he founded Hittman Associates Inc. in Baltimore. The company, which provides engineering, research and development services in nuclear engineering, advanced materials and medical engineering, moved to the new town of Columbia in 1968. It remains at the same site on Red Branch Road.

Mr. Hittman said he decided to locate his business in Columbia because of the lifestyle it afforded.

"It was more of a dream place at that time," Mr. Hittman told The Sun in a 1992 interview. "But the promise for me was that this was a place that would attract and hold scientists and engineers."

The company went public in the late 1960s and became Hittman Corp. in 1971, with four operating divisions: Hittman Nuclear and Development Corp., Hittman Associates Inc., Hittman Medical Systems, and Nuclear Battery Corp.

After three of the divisions were sold in 1982, Mr. Hittman purchased Nuclear Battery Corp. and renamed it Hittman Materials and Medical Components.

After the company was acquired by Wilson Greatbatch Ltd. in 1998, it was renamed Greatbatch-Hittman, with Mr. Hittman remaining as a consultant until he retired in 2000.

Mr. Hittman had a wide range of philanthropic, educational and civic interests. He was the first president of the Columbia chapter of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce and served on the board of the Maryland Science Center.

Mr. Hittman was past president and former board member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, and first chairman of the Chizuk Amuno Congregation Foundation Inc.

Services were held yesterday at Chizuk Amuno.

Mr. Hittman is survived by his wife of 52 years, the former Sandra Edelman; a son, Stephen J. Hittman of Columbia; two daughters, Judith E. Hittman of Washington and Karen E. Gober of Baltimore; a sister, Edith Altman of Chicago; and five grandchildren.

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