Robert A. Pickens Sr., 70, aeronautical engineer

April 05, 2004

Robert Andrew "Andy" Pickens Sr., an aeronautical engineer who helped develop satellite technology and was a connoisseur of fine wines and art, died of pneumonia Tuesday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. The Timonium resident was 70.

Mr. Pickens was born in High Point, N.C. His mother, an elementary school teacher, introduced him to art museums early in life. As an adult, he would never miss an opportunity to visit the art districts of foreign cities.

He graduated from Duke University in 1955 with a bachelor's degree in physics.

Two years later, he married Hilda Virginia Fisher, another Duke graduate. The couple moved to Baltimore that year when Mr. Pickens began working as an engineer on radar technology with Bendix Corp. in Towson. Soon, they moved into a house in Pikesville, where they would stay until they built a home in Timonium in 1970.

Mr. Pickens advanced to working on satellite technology as director of research for advanced systems at Northrop Page Communications in Vienna, Va.

When he decided to move into administration, he went back to school and earned a master's degree in business administration at Loyola College in 1975.

He continued his work in aeronautical research as vice president of engineering at ARINC Inc. in Annapolis, from which he retired in 1990.

He then started a one-man consulting company, AvCom Inc.

He amassed a collection of several thousand bottles in the wine cellar at his Timonium home, his wife said. A frequent traveler to many renowned wine-producing areas, Mr. Pickens would often guide friends and business associates through vineyards in California and France, regaling them with a history of the vintages.

Services were held Saturday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son, Robert Andrew Pickens Jr. of New Market; a daughter, Chrisley Virginia Pickens of Durham, N.C.; a brother, Rupert Tarpley Pickens III of Lexington, Ky.; and four grandchildren.

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