Edward L. Biller

[ Age 81 ] The former Baltimore school principal wrote textbooks that were used in large education systems.

March 30, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Edward L. Biller, a retired Roland Park Elementary-Junior High School principal who also wrote geography and social studies texts, died of a brain tumor Tuesday at Oak Crest Village. The former Timonium resident was 81.

Born in Charles Town, W.Va., he was the son of a Baltimore and Ohio Railroad freight agent who moved to Baltimore with his family nearly 70 years ago. Mr. Biller grew up on North Wolfe Street and was a 1943 graduate of City College, where he was on the school's swimming team and won a Maryland Scholastic Association medal for track.

He joined the Army Air Corps during World War II and was a B-29 flight instructor. Called back into service during the Korean War, he became a navigator and radar operator stationed in Korea.

He flew an unlighted B-26 light bomber on night reconnaissance missions. He took pictures of rivers and dams and was later cited for flying through foul weather in heavy enemy fire. He helped determine that a railroad bridge at Sunchon, which appeared to be destroyed in daylight photographs, was actually in full operation at night.

Mr. Biller was awarded the Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Flying Cross for the 50 missions he flew. He attained the rank of lieutenant.

After the war, he earned an education degree at what is now Towson University, where he worked on the school newspaper and edited the class yearbook. He had a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

After working as a student teacher at Clifton Park Junior High School, he joined the faculty of the city's accelerated junior high school, Robert E. Lee No. 49 on Cathedral Street.

Members of the Baltimore City School Board named Mr. Biller principal of Roland Park Elementary-Junior High School in 1963, a post he held for several years. (The school is now known as Roland Park Elementary/Middle School.)

He then became a supervisor of social studies in secondary schools, and in the 1960s introduced African-American history and culture courses and reading materials into the school system. He retired in 1980 as a curriculum coordinator.

"He was outstanding at explaining things clearly to his students," said his brother, Terry D. Biller of Parkville, a retired Northeast Middle School principal. "He had a knack of training and teaching young social studies and geography teachers. He liked to motivate his students - and show his teachers how to do this."

Mr. Biller also worked with other authors to create geography and social studies texts for middle schools. Among his nine publications were Building the American Nation and America, Its People and Values. He worked with editors at Harcourt Brace and Holt, Rinehart and Winston on history and geography books used in schools. Family members estimated that three works Mr. Biller co-authored sold more than 1 million copies and were used in large school systems.

In retirement, Mr. Biller leased apartments at Ocean City and fished for blue marlin with friends. He also played duplicate bridge.

In addition to his brother, survivors include his wife of 59 years, the former C. Lee Martin; a son, Robert Biller of Baltimore; a daughter, Barbara Kohlhepp of New Freedom, Pa.; a grandson; and a great-granddaughter.

Plans for funeral services are incomplete.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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