W. Travis Walton, 68, head of UM program, engineer

October 22, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

W. Travis Walton, an engineer who was director of the technology initiative program at the University of Maryland and developed sensors used in the study of hurricanes, died of lymphoma Wednesday at his Severna Park home. He was 68.

Mr. Walton was born in Wichita Falls, Texas, and was raised in Abilene, Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree in engineering from Rice University in 1956 and another in electrical engineering in 1957.

After serving with the Texas National Guard, in which he held the rank of lieutenant, Mr. Walton began his engineering career working in research and development at Atlantic Research in Alexandria, Va.

From 1971 to 1973, Mr. Travis worked for Sperry Sensor Systems, where he helped develop metal-detecting sensors that are now commonly used in airport security systems.

In 1974, he became a senior engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Goddard Space Flight Center, where he developed sensors that were used on test flights in the Arctic and aboard aircraft that flew into the eyes of hurricanes.

His wife of 36 years, the former Lois Hauser, said those experiences led him to be honored by the National Hurricane and Experimental Meteorology Laboratory.

Since 1984, Mr. Walton had been director of the technology initiative program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He was the founder and first director of UM's Technology Transfer Service, which sought to facilitate the exchange of technological data and solutions between the university and industry.

Mr. Walton enjoyed sailing the Chesapeake Bay aboard the Arcana, his 32-foot sailboat.

He had served as a Boy Scout troop leader, coached sports and had been a board member of the Fairfax County Symphony in Virginia. He was also a member of the Greater Severna Park Council.

He was a member of Severna Park United Methodist Church.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. tomorrow at St. Martin's-in-the-Field Episcopal Church, 375 Benfield Road, Severna Park.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, W. Thomas Walton of Greenbelt; a stepson, David Hauser of Severna Park; two stepdaughters, Gale Shreve of Pasadena and Rebecca Hauser of Mountain View, Calif.; a sister, Fleur Steinhardt of Los Angeles; and five grandchildren.

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