Charles Rock Sr.

[ Age 90 ] Starting as an aviation mechanic, he spent four decades building aircraft for Martin Marietta.

December 03, 2006|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,Sun Reporter

Charles M. Rock Sr., a longtime administrator at Martin Marietta Corp. who helped build bombers during World War II, died of leukemia Nov. 26 at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 90 and lived in Towson.

Starting out as an aviation mechanic at Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, Mr. Rock devoted more than four decades to the business of building airplanes, moving around the country to work for the firm's offices in California, Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Florida and Rockville. During World War II, he was a foreman in a team constructing B-26 bombers.

"He was devoted to the company, that's for sure, and he stayed with them for the duration, until he retired," said his daughter, Charlotte B. Wallace of Baltimore. "He worked long hours during the war, seven days a week, sometimes as long as 18 hours a day. It was grueling, hot, cramped, difficult work -- and he was proud of it."

Mr. Rock grew up in Highlandtown. His father, a pipefitter who also worked as a deputy sheriff, died of cancer when he was 15. His mother, who owned a grocery store on Rose Street, died of cancer when he was 17.

Mr. Rock went to night school to earn a high school equivalency degree, later taking college classes at the Johns Hopkins University and Loyola College. At the age of 18, he started working at Glenn L. Martin, leaving briefly to work for Consolidated Aircraft in California and then returning to Martin to work until his retirement in 1977 as a senior staff industrial relations specialist.

After retirement, he remained as a contract employee for Martin Marietta in the company's Rockville office until 1985.

On a blind date set up by his friends in 1937, Mr. Rock met his future wife, Jessie M. Pajak of Curtis Bay, and they married in 1939. They had two children, whom they raised in Baltimore and later in California, Alabama and Florida. Mr. Rock and his wife moved back to Towson, where he lived for 27 years. After his retirement from Martin, he worked for the Baltimore County school system as a personnel consultant. His wife died in 1999.

He enjoyed golf, deep-sea fishing, poker and billiards, his daughter recalled. He enjoyed fishing expeditions at Ocean City and Nags Head, N.C.

"He was very smart and generous and kind, and he loved his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who just lit up his life," his daughter said.

Funeral services were Friday.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, Charles M. Rock Jr. of Cocoa Beach, Fla.; a sister, Barbara "Bobbie" Kosdemba of Lewes, Del.; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

tom.pelton@baltsun.com

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