Donald Russel Atwood, purchasing agent


Donald Russel Atwood, a retired hospital purchasing agent and former merchant marine officer, died of multiple organ failure Wednesday at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson. He was 98.

Mr. Atwood was born in Baltimore and raised near Druid Hill Park. He was a City College graduate.

"During the Depression, he held many jobs, including being a Pinkerton detective," said his son, Theodore D. "Ted" Atwood of Roland Park, energy adviser to the Baltimore Department of Public Works.

Mr. Atwood joined the merchant marine after the outbreak of World War II and served as purser and medical officer with the rank of lieutenant aboard vessels in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

After the war, he remained in the merchant service, and sailed as a purser on Moore-McCormack Line freighters, until coming ashore in 1951.

From 1951 until retiring in 1976, Mr. Atwood was a purchasing agent for what is now the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Mr. Atwood and his wife, longtime residents of Sheffield Road in Northwood, were volunteers at the Maryland Science Center and several other organizations.

Mr. Atwood remained keenly interested in the maritime industry and ships. He was a fan of thoroughbred racing and had been an eyewitness to the great 1938 match race at Pimlico Race Course between Seabiscuit and War Admiral, his son said.

A Blakehurst resident since 2001, Mr. Atwood also enjoyed camping and swimming, and he was a world traveler.

His wife of 60 years, the former Violet Retaliata, who had been a longtime educator at Highlandtown Elementary School, died in 2001.

He was a communicant of St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church in Northwood. Plans for a memorial service, to be held at Blakehurst after Easter, were incomplete yesterday. Also surviving are two grandchildren.

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