C. Walter Lane Jr., 94, map maker

April 07, 2006|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

C. Walter Lane Jr., a retired government map maker who helped create charts used in the World War II bombing of Dresden, Germany, and Hiroshima, Japan, died of congestive heart failure March 30 at Broadmead Retirement Community in Cockeysville. He was 94.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Elsinore Avenue, he was a 1930 Forest Park High School graduate. When jobs were scarce in the Depression, he found work aboard a freighter, the Coldspring Harbor, that sailed to England, Ireland and Scotland.

After returning to Baltimore, he asked to drive neighbors to Los Angeles, where they were moving. He spent the summer of 1932 working at a Texaco gasoline station and selling programs at the Los Angeles Olympics, where family members say he saw swimmer Buster Crabbe and hurdler Babe Didrikson.

He returned to Baltimore and took a job as a draftsman and lithographer with the Coast and Geodetic Survey, now the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in Washington.

Family members said that during World War II, Mr. Lane supervised making aeronautical and nautical maps for military use. He and other drafters drew maps that were then hand etched on copper plates later put on large printing presses.

They said he was involved in making maps that included objects that were detected by radar, then a secret device. At first he and his fellow workers thought the radar detection spots were errors and cleaned up the maps, eliminating the extraneous marks. Military officials later shared the radar secret.

Mr. Lane prepared maps for some of the landmark bombing raids of World War II, family members said. He made approach maps for plane crews who dropped bombs on Dresden in February 1945 and on Hiroshima, also in 1945.

He went on to became chief of the reproduction division and made numerous nautical charts of harbors and water bodies. He was presented with the Department of Commerce's Silver Medal for distinguished service in 1966. He retired in 1972.

In his spare time, he drew cartoon characters and enjoyed woodworking and refurbishing furniture.

Mr. Lane willed his body to science and requested that no funeral or memorial service be held.

His wife of 46 years, the former Catherine Sponsler, died in 1985. He then married Nancy Walbeck, a childhood friend from his old Forest Park neighborhood. She died about four years ago.

Mr. Lane is survived by his two sons, Douglas W. Lane of Jensen Beach, Fla. and Stephen E. Lane of Los Angeles.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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