David Herbert Wilson, 86, designed hospitals, homes


David Herbert Wilson, a retired architect who helped design hospitals, residences, public buildings and offices, died of heart failure Tuesday at his Baltimore home. He was 86.

Mr. Wilson was born and raised in eastern New Jersey and graduated from Harvard University with a degree in engineering in 1940.

A natural at ballroom dancing, Mr. Wilson became a dance instructor while in college to help pay for school.

While in school, he met his future wife, Allen Dickey. The two married in 1941. "He was very gregarious," his wife said. "I don't think that I would have a lot of friends if he wasn't so friendly with people."

He attended two years at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design before moving to Baltimore. Mr. Wilson worked at the former Glenn L. Martin Co., where he specialized in the structural design of aircraft as a senior stress analyst.

After four years at the architectural offices of Lucius White and E. H. Glidden, his passion for the field led him to start a business, which was temporarily run from his home.

In 1951, he paired with architect Peter G. Christie to form Wilson and Christie, Associated Architects, his family said. In 1963, the business changed its name to David H. Wilson and Associates. The firm incorporated as Wilson Magruder Webb Ratych in 1971. He joined Kidde Consultants in 1974 as vice president in the architectural division and retired in 1980.

His daughter Catherine Allen Dickey Wilson Wilkes of New York City said that he felt a sense of accomplishment knowing that he helped design the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and Franklin Square Hospital Center.

"He got to start using some of his innate skills and come up with creative ways at looking at how to use space," she said of her father's projects.

His firms designed the Hampton Plaza in Towson, the Hampton House Apartments, the Maryland Public Broadcasting Center and buildings at Goucher College.

He took pride in producing quality buildings at a low cost, his daughter said.

After his retirement, his daughter said, he began numerically analyzing the stock market. His fascination with numbers developed into a 10-year personal study of stock prices. Mr. Wilson would create mathematical predictions using theories, graphs and tables to determine how stocks would fare.

Wise investments allowed him to take his family on numerous trips, including to Greece and Jamaica.

Charles Wagandt of Baltimore knew Mr. Wilson for more than 50 years and now lives in one of about 20 contemporary homes that Mr. Wilson designed during his career. In 1992, Mr. Wilson did one of his final architectural jobs, designing a new kitchen and family room for the home.

"He was honorable," Mr. Wagandt said. "I had a great deal of respect for him and his ability."

Jim Hardesty of Ruxton, who knew him for about 50 years, said Mr. Wilson's character made a lifelong impression on him. "He's taught me that integrity is a core value, and I hope to uphold his respect for integrity above all else," he said.

Mr. Wilson served on the architecture review boards of Maryland and Baltimore County.

At his request, Mr. Wilson's remains were donated to the State Anatomy Board.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by another daughter, Carol Wilson Garvey of Potomac; sons David Herbert Wilson Jr. of Stockton Springs, Maine, and Christopher Shryock Wilson of Baltimore; a brother, Stephen Edlin Wilson of Florida; three grandchildren, six step-grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and six step-great-grandchildren.

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