Robert B. Chapman III, 86, AAI Corp. president

May 14, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Robert B. Chapman III, a former president and a co-founder of AAI Corp. who had a second career as a college vice president, died of pneumonia Saturday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 86 and a longtime resident of Lutherville before moving three years ago to Oak Crest Village.

Born in Baltimore and raised in the 2400 block of Maryland Ave., he was a 1935 graduate of Polytechnic Institute and earned a civil engineering degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

In the late 1930s, he joined John E. Greiner Co. as a structural engineer and designed a span of the U.S. 40 bridge over the Susquehanna River at Havre de Grace. From 1940 to 1941, he was a structures engineer at the former Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River and designed landing ribs for its B-26 Martin Marauder light bomber.

He then joined the Army Air Corps and was director of supply and service on airfields in the Azores and in Presque Isle, Maine. He attained the rank of lieutenant colonel but was not permitted to fly because he was colorblind.

After the war, he returned to Martin and was a structures designer for the Matador Missile, among other projects.

In 1950, he helped found Aircraft Armaments Inc., now AAI Corp., with other partners at Cold Spring Lane and Park Heights Avenue. Two years later, Mr. Chapman, who held employment badge No. 8, helped move the business to Cockeysville, where it remains. He became its president and chief executive officer and retired in 1975.

After retiring, he became vice president for institutional planning and development at what is now Coppin State University, a post he held for seven years.

"He helped the school get a giving program started for faculty and alumni," said his son, R. Breck Chapman of Lutherville. "He loved working at Coppin, and many of the students often dropped into his office to talk to him and seek his advice."

In 1973, then-Gov. Marvin Mandel named Mr. Chapman as chairman of his Commission on Dyslexia. Mr. Chapman also was on the founding advisory council of Jemicy School in Owings Mills.

He had been an assistant Scoutmaster of Lutherville's Troop 340 and a coach in the Lutherville-Timonium Recreation Little League. He was also active in his children's pony clubs.

A past president of the Sheppard Pratt Hospital Auxiliary, Mr. Chapman was a member of Maryland Presbyterian Church in Towson and a former member of Second Presbyterian Church in Guilford. He was also a member of the Eubie Blake Cultural Center.

In the 1990s, Mr. Chapman wrote letters to gain Baseball Hall of Fame admission for Walter Scott "Steve" Brodie (1868-1935), who played center field for the 1890s Orioles. Mr. Brodie was the grandfather of Mr. Chapman's wife, and he had known him as a Maryland Avenue neighbor. He enlisted the help of sportswriter John Steadman, but the campaign did not succeed.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.

Survivors, in addition to his son, include his wife of 63 years, the former Audrey Frank; a daughter, Linda C. Fabiszak of Baldwin; and a brother, John S.H. Chapman of Parkville.

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