Leonard Bongers

[ Age 83 ] Westminster resident helped rectify thermal pollution in the bay.

April 17, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Leonard Hubert Bongers, a retired research scientist who later owned an environmental consulting firm, died of a heart attack April 9 at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The Westminster resident was 83.

Dr. Bongers was born and raised in Weert, Limburg, in the Netherlands.

As a student at Wageningen University, he participated in the effort to shore up dikes during the great North Sea flood in 1953 that inundated much of the Netherlands and killed 1,835 people.

He earned his doctorate in plant physiology and biosynthesis from Wageningen University and three years later immigrated to Baltimore, when he took a job in the scientific research division of Martin Marietta Corp.

Dr. Bongers was associated with the development of life-support systems for manned spaceflight while under contract to NASA's Skylab project in the 1960s.

He also worked on fixing the thermal pollution effects of conventional nuclear power plants on estuarine systems in the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River.

Dr. Bongers retired in 1986 from Versar, which had been spun off by parent Martin Marietta in the early 1980s.

He then established B&B Environmental Consultants, which worked with cities such as Washington, Indianapolis, and York, Pa., on evaluation and management of fly ash.

Dr. Bongers, who had lived in Ten Hills for many years and later Phoenix, Baltimore County, had been a Westminster resident since 2003.

He enjoyed reading and working in his yard.

At his request, no services will be held.

Survivors include his wife of 52 years, the former Hermine Janssen; two sons, Hans Bongers of Aromas, Calif., and Paul Bongers of Catonsville; two daughters, Sylvia Bongers Batong of Port Republic and Gabrielle Grooman of Westminster; two brothers, Rene Bongers of Elgin, Ontario, and Jan Bongers of Weert, Limburg; and four grandchildren.

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