Harry George, 88

Managed missile projects

June 10, 2007

Harry George, a 50-year employee of what is now Lockheed Martin who managed the construction of missile systems, died Wednesday of a heart attack at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center & Hospital in Baltimore. The Timonium resident, who suffered from Parkinson's disease, was 88.

Mr. George was born in Baltimore and raised near Lexington Market. He graduated in 1935 from Polytechnic Institute, which was then on North Avenue.

At 17, he took a job as a mechanic's helper at the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River -- a position that paid 32.5 cents per hour -- and remained with the company for the next 50 years.

He moved up to the role of project manager while taking night classes in engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. He worked on the PBM "flying boats" during World War II and, later, the Pershing missile, the Titan intercontinental ballistic missile and the Sprint missile.

He also worked on the Vanguard rocket that was used to launch U.S. satellites into orbit in the 1950s.

His family said he described his job as building, testing and making "sure the darn thing worked."

He married Hazel Slayton in 1944, and they raised three sons in Towson.

In the 1970s, the company, which was then called Martin Marietta, transferred Mr. George to its plant in Orlando, Fla. He supervised 1,200 employees and remained there until his retirement in 1986.

He spent 30 years as a resident of Winter Park, Fla., but in the late 1990s, he and his wife started spending summers near their sons in the Baltimore area. They moved to Timonium in 2003.

Mr. George was a lifelong baseball fan who cheered for the Orioles but remained a supporter of the Yankees from his youth. A baseball signed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig at an exhibition game when he was 10 years old was a cherished item he often showed to visitors and friends.

He enjoyed competition, particularly in pingpong and tennis. He was also fond of challenging people to play billiards, at which he excelled.

He was most recently a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Towson and previously belonged to Christian Scientist churches in Florida and Baltimore.

A memorial service will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Lemmon Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.

In addition to his wife, Mr. George is survived by three sons, Dick George of Baldwin, Bill George of Parkton and Tom George of Ruxton; a sister, Kathryn Porpora of Baltimore; and four grandchildren.

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