Thomas Meyer, 71, chemist and Westinghouse engineer


Thomas I. Meyer, a retired chemist and Westinghouse materials engineer who helped make surveillance blimps, died of a heart attack Tuesday at Spa Creek Center nursing home in Annapolis. The former Severna Park resident was 71.

Born in Teaneck, N.J., Mr. Meyer earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and worked at what was then Rockwell Manufacturing.

He then became a Westinghouse Electric Corp. chemist, and in 1962 was transferred to its Oceanic Undersea Division in Annapolis as an analytical chemist and engineer. In 1981, he received a materials engineering certificate from Catholic University of America.

In 1987, he transferred to a Westinghouse subsidiary, DESCO-TECOM, and worked on creating a type of blimp called an aerostat. The aerostat, which is tethered to the ground, is used for military surveillance in the Middle East, in Barbados to detect illegal drug activity and along U.S. borders.

Mr. Meyer made numerous tests on the nine layers used in the blimp's inflatable fabric.

Family members said that while at Westinghouse, he and his team researched and developed projects that led to four patents and to other innovations that were kept by the Navy as trade secrets and were not patented because of security reasons.

With partner Henry "Bud" Kessler, he set up an Annapolis-based business, Meyer and Associates in Sea Technology Inc. They created a cape-like tarp to protect homes during a forest fire.

"He was trustworthy, easygoing and patient," said Mr. Kessler, a resident of Ellicott City.

Mr. Meyer created and edited the Materials and Standards Manual for Westinghouse from 1969 to 1987. He also was on the advisory board and critiqued articles for Chemical Week and Materials Engineering magazines.

Mr. Meyer held memberships in the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemists and the District of Columbia Institute of Chemists.

He was an officer and committee member of the Magothy River Coast Guard Auxiliary, where he volunteered for 41 years, and was a 29-year member of the Annapolis Yacht Club. He enjoyed powerboating and called the finish line for Wednesday-evening yacht races and for the Frostbite Series held on Sundays during the winter.

He also was a member of the Model A Ford Club of Greater Baltimore, Model A Restorers Club, Friendship Veterans Association of Westinghouse Retirees and Annapolis Elks Lodge 622.

Mr. Meyer was well-known for his salt-and-pepper beard. He appeared as Santa Claus for many years at Westinghouse Oceanic's children's Christmas parties.

"He always had a beard, but from Labor Day on, he let it grow fuller," said his wife of 18 years, the former Ann Spreng Puzzini. "I think the beard got started one year when he was out on a long assignment. He just let it grow."

Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. John Neumann Roman Catholic Church, 620 N. Bestgate Ave., Annapolis.

Survivors also include a son, Thomas G. Meyer of Bowie; two daughters, Anne McFadden of Grasonville and Maureen Steinhouse of Virginia Beach, Va.; a stepson, Frank A. Puzzini Jr. of Atlanta; a stepdaughter, Elizabeth Puzzini Glantz of Pittsburgh; six grandchildren; and five step-grandchildren. His marriage to Patricia Maloney Huber ended in divorce.

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