Frederick T. Wehr, 79, development director

July 06, 2005|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Frederick Theobald Wehr, a retired development director for the old Church Home and Hospital and a part-time aviator who once flew under the Bay Bridge, died of cancer Monday at his Roland Park home. He was 79.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Ruxton, he was a 1943 graduate of the Gilman School. He enrolled at Princeton University but almost immediately entered the Navy's accelerated officer training program and spent three years in the Navy during World War II, serving as the navigator on the Herbert J. Thomas, a destroyer in the Pacific.

In a private memoir, Mr. Wehr said he was among the first to enter Japan after its 1945 surrender. His destroyer met returning Japanese warships and disarmed them.

After the war, he went back to Princeton University, where he majored in history, graduating in 1948.

He returned to Baltimore and joined the staff of the newly formed WMAR-TV as a news writer at the station's downtown location at Charles and Baltimore streets. He later became a director of television coverage of sports events and for several years handled the telecasting of Orioles baseball and National Football League games.

Mr. Wehr wrote in his memoir that it was exciting work on the cusp of television technology, but it paid little and involved long stretches away from home and family.

He had a lifelong interest in aviation, particularly planes built between 1914 and 1945. For years, he held a pilot's license, and he owned or co-owned three airplanes. In the memoir, he told of flying upside down over his Ruxton home and of flying under the Bay Bridge, which he did without permission. In his 40s, he made several parachute jumps "to see what it was like."

Mr. Wehr collected toy soldiers and wrote three books, The Flags and Seals of Maryland and the United States; a local history titled Poe Died Here: Recollections of Church Home & Hospital; and Amelia, a children's story about a little girl, her father and the spirit of Amelia Earhart.

During the 1976 Bicentennial, he also arranged with the Women's Institution at Jessup to have a mid-18th-century Maryland flag, with a British union symbol in a black-and-gold field, reproduced.

From 1952 until 1960, he worked in advertising in New York, as well as for the old Joseph Katz Co. and the H.W. Buddemeier Co., both Baltimore firms.

He was then Goucher College's development director and, for 19 years held the same post at Church Home and Hospital in East Baltimore, first as a department head and later as a vice president. While there, he was active in bringing the hospice movement to Baltimore. He retired in 1990.

He was a member of the Elkridge Club, the 14 W. Hamilton Street Club, the Bachelors Cotillon, the Society of Colonial Wars and the Society of Mayflower Descendants.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Church of the Redeemer, 5603 N. Charles St.

Survivors include his wife of 15 years, Sylvia Johnson-Eggleston Wehr, associate dean for external affairs at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His first wife, Grace Mitchell Wehr, died in 1977, and his second wife, Lois Wald Wehr, died in 1988.

He is also survived by a son, Frederick Lewis Wehr II of Cairo, Egypt; two daughters, Emily Wehr Emerick and Jennifer Wehr Clouse, both of Baltimore; his mother, Nancy Theobald Wehr of Towson; three stepdaughters, Elizabeth Eggleston Drigotas, Anne Eggleston Broadus and Elaine Eggleston Doherty, all of Baltimore; seven grandchildren; and four stepgrandchildren.

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