John N. Renneburg Sr., 93, owned machine manufacturing company

September 02, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

John Norris Renneburg Sr., former president and owner of a Canton machinery manufacturing company, died of a bleeding ulcer Monday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 93.

Mr. Renneburg was born and raised in Baltimore and lived for 83 years in his Midvale Road home in Roland Park until moving to the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville a decade ago.

He was a 1929 graduate of the Gilman School and earned a bachelor's degree in politics from Princeton University in 1933.

While at Princeton, he was a member and violinist with the Triangle Club, the nation's oldest collegiate musical-comedy troupe.

"When touring with the show during Christmas vacations, they traveled aboard a private railroad car. Other club members at the time were Jimmy Stewart, Jose Ferrer and Josh Logan," said his wife of 57 years, the former Ruth Buettner, a member of the World War II Navy WAVES - Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service.

Mr. Renneburg returned to Baltimore and studied at the University of Maryland School of Law while working in the family business, Edward Renneburg & Sons Co., that had been founded in 1874 by his grandfather.

His interest in the company began in his childhood as he listened to his father, an engineer who designed processing machinery, tell stories about the custom-made machines that were designed for specific manufacturing tasks.

The company, located in the four-story former Chipman Chair factory on Boston Street from 1911 to 1985, manufactured machines used by the chemical, fertilizer, food, fish meal and oil industries.

Mr. Renneburg graduated from law school in 1936 and established a general law practice in the Munsey Building.

"He worked in overalls at the family plant during the day, and at night prepared legal cases that were handled in court by his partner," Mrs. Renneburg said.

Mr. Renneburg later abandoned his law career, and on the eve of World War II converted the plant to war production.

With the outbreak of war, he joined the Navy, attaining the rank of lieutenant. He was assigned to the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. plant in Middle River, where he worked in contract termination.

After the war, Mr. Renneburg returned to his company, where he was later joined by his wife, who was vice president of Renneburg International Inc.

Engineers from the U.S., Denmark, Germany, Spain and Iceland designed a diverse line of specialty processing machines that were built in the company's plant in the 2600 block of Boston St. and shipped all over the world.

One machine designed for the chemical industry produced solid propellants used as rocket fuel; another manufactured particle board used by the building industry. Other machines helped process Maine blueberries for canning, fertilizer in India and Antarctic krill that added color to salmon raised in commercial fish farms.

Mr. Renneburg merged his company with Heyl & Patterson Inc. of Pittsburgh in 1985 and sold the business two years later.

The company's old Canton waterfront plant was later renamed The Shipyard after being redeveloped into a 56-until rental apartment complex.

Mr. Renneburg continued his lifelong interest in music and playing the violin. He enjoyed attending performances of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Gettysburg Symphony Orchestra, where he had chaired the orchestra's board.

He also liked traveling and sailing.

Mr. Renneburg was a member of the Gibson Island Club, Baltimore Country Club, Princeton Club of New York and Roland Park Presbyterian Church.

Services are private.

Surviving are a son, John Norris Renneburg Jr. of Wellesley, Mass.; a daughter, Carol Renneburg Pratt of La Jolla, Calif.; and four grandchildren.

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