Quentin E. Erlandson, 85, engineer, golfer

April 10, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Quentin E. Erlandson, a retired Martin Marietta Corp. engineer and champion daffodil grower, died of a heart attack Monday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 85.

Mr. Erlandson was born in Bottineau, N.D., a small farming village on the Canadian border. He moved with his family to Minneapolis, where he graduated from high school.

After earning a bachelor's degree in engineering in 1939 from the University of Minnesota, he went to work for the Rural Electrification Administration in Washington. He lectured throughout the South, Midwest and East on the benefits of electric illumination and farm equipment.

With the outbreak of World War II, and turned down for enlistment as a Navy flier, Mr. Erlandson went to work for the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River.

"He often said, `If I can't fly 'em, I'll help design 'em,'" family members said.

At Martin, he helped design Navy planes and served as the group engineer that designed electrical systems on the Mercator patrol bomber and Marlin seaplane. He was promoted to electro-mechanical project engineer.

He later moved to Martin's corporate headquarters in the Linthicum area, where he worked on the Gemini space program, advanced systems and in long-range planning for the company's various divisions.

He held a top-secret security clearance, and much of Mr. Erlandson's work was of a classified nature.

After retiring in 1968, he operated his own consulting firm for several years.

Mr. Erlandson and his wife of 60 years, the former Mary Gwynn Carman, resided on Burnbrae Road in Towson until 1988. They lived in Guilford before moving to the Mays Chapel section of Timonium two years ago.

He was an avid golfer, proud of his hole-in-one at the Baltimore Country Club and a lifetime low golf score of 76. His other chief pastime was daffodils.

Mr. Erlandson drove his wife, who was president of the Maryland Daffodil Society during the 1970s, to judging engagements and meetings with other daffodil buffs.

"I met nice people," he told The Sun in a 1978 interview, explaining why he took up the hobby himself -- growing miniature daffodils. Though he said nothing quite equaled his passion for golf, daffodils were a close second.

What also fascinated him was the vast variety of daffodils.

"Fewer people grew them, too, which gave me, a relative newcomer, a better chance to compete. There are 10,000 named varieties. Of those, less than 200 are miniatures. It's a very select group," Mr. Erlandson said.

Also, the couple's hilly and shady yard was conducive to the bright yellow flower that is a harbinger of spring.

He brought an engineer's passion for order to the project by keeping a detailed map that showed the location of the 400 to 500 bulbs he had planted. His planting methods required no fancy gardening equipment, just a spade with which he made a hole 6 inches wide and 10 to 12 inches deep, into which the bulbs were placed nose up.

For years, Mr. Erlandson, who was regional director and board member of the American Daffodil Society, showed off his handiwork at the annual spring Maryland Daffodil Show. He also photographed the various types of daffodils he had grown and used them to illustrate his lectures on the subject.

He was a member of the L'Hirondelle Club and Wednesday Luncheon Club, and a former member of the Towson Rotary. He enjoyed spending winters on the island of Bonaire in the southern Caribbean, where he enjoyed snorkeling.

He also had completed and privately published Bottineau to Baltimore, a family memoir.

Mr. Erlandson was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd at Carrollton and Boyce avenues, Ruxton, where a memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. today.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Robert C. Erlandson of Lutherville; a daughter, Karen G. Richter of Princeton, N.J.; and five grandchildren.

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