John M. Anderson, 77, resurveyed Md.-Del. line


John Meredith Anderson, a retired State Highway Administration surveyor who worked during the 1970s on a resurvey of the portion of the Mason-Dixon Line between Maryland and Delaware, died of multiple myeloma Friday at his Pasadena home. He was 77.

Mr. Anderson was born in Addison, Mich. and raised in the Mount Washington neighborhood. He was a 1948 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School and attended the Johns Hopkins University and Loyola College.

He worked for Catalyst Research Corp. in Baltimore, then joined what was then the State Roads Commission as a surveyor in 1964.

In the early 1970s, Mr. Anderson joined an 82-mile resurvey of the boundary between Maryland and Delaware on the Delmarva peninsula - from the Atlantic Ocean at Fenwick Island to a few miles east of Denton where the Mason-Dixon Line crosses Route 404.

The original 1764 survey by Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, English mathematicians and surveyors, was used to settle a dispute between the Calverts of Maryland and the Penns of Pennsylvania. An English judge had ordered the peninsula divided, the western part for the Calverts and the eastern part for the Penns.

The 1970s project of the National Geodetic Survey, the Maryland Geological Survey and the Delaware State Boundary Commission was sparked by years of complaints from historians, tax assessors, landowners and police.

"It was a cooperative effort, and Andy represented the State Highway Administration because so much of the work fell along highways or their rights of way. We weren't disturbing but rather preserving history," said Ralph G. Poust, who headed the field work for the National Geodetic Survey.

"We became very good friends because we lived and worked together while conducting the survey. He was my right-hand man," Mr. Poust said yesterday.

The men were surprised to find that of the original stones placed by Mason and Dixon every mile to mark the border, only 20 were out of position or missing. Fifteen of the stones were relocated.

"A lot of them were missing, but we searched until we found them. They were solid limestone and had been brought over from England as ballast in the hold of a ship. They were 7 feet long, 14 inches square and weighed 600 pounds, and we had to move or push them back up," Mr. Poust said.

"One thing that stands out in my mind is when we were working in the Great Cypress Swamp in Delaware. We had to move a fallen tree out of our way - it must have weighed 400 or 500 pounds - and I looked back and there was Andy moving along with ease, carrying [one end of] the tree under one arm," he said.

The project was completed in 1978, Mr. Poust said.

Mr. Anderson also played a role in 1987 in getting Maryland to use the Global Positioning System to establish precise positions, said his wife of 51 years, the former Eva Frantz, a retired cellist and keyboard player for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Anderson retired from the highway agency in 1991.

A former Timonium resident, he moved to Pasadena's Poplar Ridge neighborhood in 1978. He was a longtime volunteer at Downs Park, where, as a member of its Sap Suckers group, he helped in demonstrations of making maple syrup.

He was a member of Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 12 and was an avid scuba diver who liked diving on shipwrecks and reefs. Mr. Anderson also enjoyed fly fishing and was a member of Friends of Hunting Creek in Thurmont, an environmental preservation organization.

He liked spending time at a second home in Ocean City, cooking for his family and renovations.

"He redid the interior of our house, installed new doors and windows, some paneling, ceilings and put in new kitchen cabinets. He also enclosed a porch," his wife said. "He was called `Handy Andy,' because he could do most anything."

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at his home, 2124 Poplar Ridge Road.

Also surviving are two daughters, Eva Marie Burnham of Greensboro, N.C., and Martha Jean Dunbar of Highland; a sister, Ellen Schmidt of Ruxton; and six grandchildren.

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