William Garretson

[ Age 75 ] Wire and cable industry executive was a self-taught engineer who enjoyed racing and building boats

January 01, 2007|By Nia-Malika Henderson | Nia-Malika Henderson,SUN REPORTER

William W. Garretson, a retired wire and cable industry executive, died of lung cancer Thursday at Bay Woods retirement community in Annapolis. He was 75.

Born near the water in Perth Amboy, N.J., he developed a love of racing and building boats as a boy. He attended public schools in New Jersey and went on to earn an undergraduate degree in economics from Lafayette College in 1953.

After graduation, he served in the Army for three years with the 82nd Airborne Division, where he was a lieutenant. He then moved to Baltimore to work for General Cable Corp.

Mr. Garretson married Ruth Spry, a nurse whom he met through mutual friends, in 1961.

With General Cable Corp., Mr. Garretson and his family moved from Baltimore to Bethesda, Illinois, Massachusetts and New Jersey. In 1970, he earned a graduate degree in management from the Sloan School of Business at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

From 1976 to 1982, he served as president of Triangle PWC Inc., a network of wire companies. In 1982, he purchased Protective Coating Developments Inc., a division of Triangle PWC Inc., and moved the company's headquarters to Millersville from New Jersey. That year his family settled in Severna Park.

He also opened Garretson Associates, a manufacturer's representative agency for the wire and cable industry. Mr. Garretson retired from both companies in 2003.

He loved to plan family trips, and traveled to California, Florida and the Caribbean for vacations. The family traveled to Disneyland on Easter weekend of 2003, three weeks after Mr. Garretson underwent surgery for a brain tumor.

"There he was, riding the Big Thunder Roller Coaster with his grandchildren," recalled his daughter, Meg Carter of Alexandria, Va. "He did not look very good, but that is where he wanted to be. He was determined."

Mrs. Carter said he passed that sense of determination to his children - asking in tough moments about solutions, rather than dwelling on the negative.

Known to his grandchildren as "Handy Grandy," Mr. Garretson built model boats, furniture, and fixed household appliances. His collection of model boats included a log canoe, a skipjack and a miniature of a racing sailboat he had built when he was a teenager.

A self-taught engineer and electrician, he built elaborate beds for his two grandsons - one was a dump truck, the other a lobster boat. For weeks, he researched dump trucks and lobster boats and then built beds with lifts and cabs, working windshield wipers, horns, a steering wheel and a hatch.

Mr. Garretson also enjoyed skiing and reading World War II history.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 8 at Port Annapolis Marina, 7074 Bembe Beach Road.

In addition to his wife, daughter and grandsons, he is survived by a son, William W. Garretson of Los Angeles.

nia.henderson@baltsun.com

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