Charles McWilliams, 89

Aeronautical engineer

September 23, 2007

Charles W. McWilliams, an engineer who worked on missile and space projects, died Sept. 16 of heart failure at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The former Ruxton resident was 89.

Mr. McWilliams was born and raised in Arlington, N.J., and attended his hometown high school before heading off to the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1940, according to his wife, the former Helen Collins.

Mrs. McWilliams said her husband began his career at Harvard University at the request of the school's president, James Bryant Conant, who wanted Mr. McWilliams to work on classified projects during World War II.

Mr. McWilliams later worked at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and for Bendix in Teterboro, N.J., as manager of a project to develop the Pershing guided missile.

He married in 1954 and later moved with his wife to Heidelberg, Germany, to work with Teldix from 1965 to 1968. He returned to the United States in 1969 and moved to Ruxton to work as director of engineering at Bendix Corp.'s Towson office. During this time, he was one of many engineers who supported the first lunar landing mission.

He also worked for Tull Aviation, Wilson Electric and Northrop. He left the aircraft company known today as Northrop Grumman in the late 1970s to pursue a consulting career, according to his wife.

He served as a consultant to aeronautical firms working with such government agencies as NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration until he retired in 1985.

His wife said he also conducted medical research on animals, held three patents and was a member of the Johns Hopkins Club. He also was a member of the Engineering Society of Baltimore. Mr. McWilliams, a fan of classical music and art, was a longtime parishioner at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen. He volunteered to serve on its welcoming committee for 16 years. His funeral services were held Thursday at the cathedral.

In addition to his wife, Mr. McWilliams is survived by a daughter, Mary Pickett of Stewartstown, Pa., and two grandchildren.

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