Edward M. Rothen, 102, engineering executive

December 21, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Edward M. Rothen, a retired engineering executive whose regimen of red meat and a couple of splashes of scotch daily did not keep him from becoming a centenarian, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday at the Blakehurst Life Care Community in Towson. He was 102.

Mr. Rothen gave up cigars at 92 and driving at 97, but he was still chasing golf balls around the retirement community's putting green this year.

Born in New York City and raised there and in New Jersey, he earned a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1923 from Cooper Union in New York.

A longtime resident of Mendham, N.J., he worked for half a century at Russell & Stohl, a New York engineering firm, retiring in 1969 as a vice president and chief engineer. He moved to Baltimore in 1987.

"There is no secret," Mr. Rothen told a reporter two years ago, on his 100th birthday. "Oh, I love scotch. That's my weakness. Cutty Sark on the rocks. Sometimes I'll have more than one."

He had smoked six or seven cigars a day for more than seven decades. "I smoked like a chimney," he said. "Never was without a cigar in my mouth from morning till night."

And as a devotee of red meat, he allowed, "I love steak. New York strip or filet mignon."

"He had good genes, too. His parents both died in their 90s, and his sister died at 96," said his daughter, Ethel "Penny" Hardee of Ruxton. "He never had high blood pressure or cholesterol problems. In short, he had no problems. In fact, he was relatively well until the last month."

Mr. Rothen slept eight hours at night, and during the day regularly exercised by walking around a pond on the grounds of Blakehurst -- where he was also able to indulge his passion for golf on the retirement community's immaculately groomed putting green.

During his three years of living at Blakehurst, he became a champion with the most holes-in-one. For his prowess on the course, Blakehurst created the Ed Rothen Championship Cup last year.

Someone once suggested that he try lawn bowling.

"But when I leaned over with the ball to roll it, I couldn't get up," Mr. Rothen said.

Asked how it felt being a centenarian, he said, "About the same way as it felt when I turned 90."

He was married in 1924 to Marion Friebolin, who died in 1983.

"He became an Orioles fan, and that was quite a conversion because for years he had been an avid Yankees fan. However, he was always torn when they played each other," his daughter said.

Mr. Rothen also enjoyed flower and vegetable gardening.

Plans for graveside services in New Jersey were incomplete.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, Robert E. Rothen of Morristown, N.J.; nine grandchildren; and 18 great-grandchildren.

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