Robert E. Mason, a retired chemical engineer at Pemco Products Group, died of complications from cancer Sept. 5 at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care in Towson. He was 78 and was a longtime resident of Northeast Baltimore.
He was born in Cleveland and moved to Baltimore when he was 5. He became interested in chemistry and studied the subject at Calvert Hall College High School. He graduated in 1945.
Mr. Mason enlisted in the Navy and served in Illinois and California before becoming a radio operator aboard the USS Nicholson, a destroyer. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
A self-taught chemist who did not receive his bachelor's degree from Kennedy-Western University until he turned 65, Mr. Mason nonetheless worked at several of the city's largest chemical companies, including Allied Chemical. In 1953, he took a position as a chemist at Pemco.
Part of Mr. Mason's responsibility was to analyze porcelain enamel used in household and industrial products. He designed and built sophisticated electronic circuitry, including a digital assembly readout still in use.
He also developed a computer program that improved X-ray analysis by correcting errors caused when glass absorbs radiation.
He retired in 1993.
Mr. Mason was an amateur radio operator and built all of his equipment from scratch. He taught himself to play the guitar, mandolin and banjo.
His body was donated to the Maryland Anatomy Board.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 8 at Immanuel Baptist Church, 5050 Bucks School House Road, White Marsh.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, the former Myra Levy; two sons, Roger Mason of Middle River and Glenn Mason of Cockeysville; three daughters, Karen Baughn of Schenectady, N.Y., Martina Mason of Essex and Kathryn Mason of Parkville; and five grandchildren.