Robert S. Bennett, 67, electrical engineer

December 09, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Robert Stewart Bennett, a retired electrical engineer and amateur radio operator, died in his sleep Saturday at his Towson home. The cause was unknown, but family members said he had suffered from high blood pressure. He was 67.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Anneslie, he began his interest in amateur radio as a youth when he turned the metal springs of his bed into an antenna for his two-way radio.

He was a 1954 graduate of Towson High School and earned his undergraduate degree and doctorate in electrical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University, where he later taught part time. He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity and served as its alumni president for more than 30 years.

Dr. Bennett analyzed the vulnerabilities of American military aircraft to make crew safety improvements. He worked at Falcon Research, Ketron Inc., and finally Bionetics, where he was chief of the research and development division for vulnerabilities and survivabilities analysis in Cockeysville. He retired in 2001.

"He was a born leader. People looked to him to take leadership roles," said his daughter, Amy Bennett of Ypsilanti, Mich. "He was a kind man who was interested in helping people resolve conflicts."

Throughout his career, Dr. Bennett was an enthusiastic amateur radio and television operator. His call sign was W3WCQ.

He was a founding member of the Baltimore Amateur Radio and Television Society (BRATS), and at his death was its president. He built a television studio in a spare bedroom of his home.

He was also president of the Quarter Century Wireless Association, made up of members who had radio licenses for more than 25 years.

Dr. Bennett was to have been chairman of the committee planning next year's Towson Fourth of July Parade. In the past, he helped organize the parade's opening flyover of Maryland Air National Guard jets, and enjoyed bringing bands from throughout the United States and Canada to participate in the event.

Dr. Bennett also was a volunteer for the annual multiple sclerosis bike tours on the Eastern Shore and the annual Living Flag event at Fort McHenry, helping to provide and coordinate radio communications.

In January 1987, Dr. Bennett and other ham radio operators responded to the train accident at Chase, in eastern Baltimore County, where 16 people were killed and hundreds were injured. With local telephone circuits jammed, the radio operators used their packet transmission capabilities to help survivors of the accident contact their families.

He also assisted BRATS in maintaining a trailer with a 50-foot boom antenna that can be activated for emergency service.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Calvary Lutheran Church, 2625 E. Northern Parkway, where he had been a president of the congregation.

In addition to his daughter, Dr. Bennett is survived by a sister, Beth Bennett Gladstone of Ocean City. His wife of 27 years, the former Carol Brunner, a medical secretary, died in 1993.

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