John Gotschall, 47, engineering manager

February 14, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

John Andrew Gotschall, an engineering manager who joined in a Johns Hopkins Hospital study after receiving a diagnosis of brain cancer about seven years ago, died of the illness Feb. 7 at his West Friendship home. He was 47.

Born in Cleveland, he was raised in Europe and Massachusetts and earned a degree in structural design engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y. He played on the school's varsity baseball team and belonged to Phi Kappa Tau fraternity. He also obtained a master's degree there.

Hired by the Westvaco paper-manufacturing company in 1979, he worked in engineering efforts to improve and enlarge its Middle Atlantic paper mills. He was manager of the design and construction group at its technical center in Laurel.

"We was well respected in the company. His opinion was sought throughout the organization," said colleague and next-door neighbor Scott Birth. "He had a quick wit and sense of humor -- but was serious about his work."

Family members said that at age 40, Mr. Gotschall was told he had a brain tumor.

He became involved with a Johns Hopkins Hospital study in conjunction with the National Institutes of Health. He took diphtheria toxin, which was credited with giving him an additional six years of life. He was interviewed on CBS Evening News on the topic in 1997.

"We had calls and letters from across the county and beyond," said his wife of nearly 20 years, the former Lisa Waleryszak. "He was very kind in answering calls and reviewed what worked for him, and told people to consider all options."

He enjoyed playing softball and teaching his sons, Andrew, 14, a Glenelg High School student, and Christopher, 13, who attends Glenwood Middle School, to play golf.

A memorial Mass will be offered at noon tomorrow at St. Louis Roman Catholic Church, 12500 Clarksville Pike, Clarksville, where he was a member.

Survivors also include his parents, Charles and Miriam Gotschall of Shaker Heights, Ohio; a brother, Thomas Gotschall of Marietta, Ga.; three sisters, Sally G. Stubbs of Melrose, Mass., Barbara G. Kemp of Boxborough, Mass., and Beth G. Lorenzini of Mount Prospect, Ill.

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