Bowen Pattison Weisheit Sr., a retired Harford County real estate lawyer and author who wrote of his World War II experiences as well as the disappearance of flier Amelia Earhart, died of heart failure April 29 while shad fishing on the Susquehanna River.
The longtime Bel Air resident, who was pronounced dead at Harford Memorial Hospital, was 90.
Mr. Weisheit, the son of a lawyer and West Towson developer, was born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton. He was a 1936 graduate of City College and earned a bachelor's degree in 1940 from St. John's College in Annapolis.
In addition to learning the classics at St. John's, he also studied celestial, aerial and marine navigation with Capt. Philip Van Horn Weems, who counted among his students Charles A. Lindbergh.
When World War II broke out, Mr. Weisheit went to work at the Glenn L. Martin plant in Middle River, where he worked as an aircraft delivery specialist.
"He made the final inspections on the Martin B-26 Marauders," said a son, Bowen P. Weisheit Jr. of Baltimore.
Subsequently, Mr. Weisheit enlisted in the Marine Corps and flew in the Pacific as a navigation instructor and as a combat and transport navigator.
He remained in the Marine Corps Reserve after the war and had attained the rank of major at the time of his 1962 retirement.
After the war, Mr. Weisheit earned his law degree from the University of Virginia in 1948.
He engaged in real estate development and practiced real estate in Bel Air until retiring in 2006. He also taught a real estate appraisal course for nearly 20 years at Harford Community College.
"He kept his boots on as long as he could," his son said.
Judge William O. Carr, chief judge of the Harford County Circuit Court, was an old friend.
"I knew Bowen well, and he was quite a guy. He was an outstanding lawyer and a gentleman of the old school," Judge Carr recalled yesterday.
"He was gracious, thoughtful and had a good sense of humor. He was also very scholarly and quite reasonable in his approach to the law," he said.
Albert W. Laisy, a retired Bel Air attorney, was also a longtime old friend.
"Bowen was one funny character. He was a big, imposing and gangly guy who got along with everyone and was well liked," Mr. Laisy said.
Mr. Weisheit relied upon his navigational expertise when researching and writing The Last Flight of Frederick J. Noonan and Amelia Earhart, who vanished in an attempted circumnavigation of the globe in 1937, and The Last Flight of Ensign C. Markland Kelly Jr.
Mr. Kelly, a Baltimore native and Navy dive bomber pilot, was a friend and fraternity brother of Mr. Weisheit. He was shot down and lost his life during the Battle of Midway in 1942.
Mr. Weisheit's son said the Markland C. Kelly book is part of the permanent collection of U.S. Navy libraries worldwide.
Regarding Amelia Earhart's final flight, Mr. Weisheit believed that her plane crashed near Howland Island in the Pacific.
"Her navigator, Noonan, had also been a student of Weems, and my father felt he had an insight into his thinking and the path he was taking and approximately where the plane came down, which he thought was in very deep water off Howland," Mr. Weisheit's son said.
Through the years, Mr. Weisheit was contacted by groups searching for Amelia Earhart's plane, as well as her remains and those of Mr. Noonan.
His remaining book, How Nature's Deadly Foresight Fashioned Weisheit Hindsight, was a collection of personal vignettes from World War II.
For many years, Mr. Weisheit was an officer and board member of the Ensign Markland C. Kelly Jr. Memorial Foundation. He also served on the boards of St. Paul's School and John Carroll School.
The former Rockland resident, who had lived in Bel Air since 1971, had also been a longtime communicant and vestryman at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Baltimore.
"He was a devoted husband and father, an avid fisherman, crabber and raconteur of many stories from vivid recollections of a rich life," his son said.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the chapel at St. Paul's School, 1152 Falls Road, Lutherville.
Also surviving are his wife of 63 years, the former Edith G. Burroughs; another son, Jonathan W. Weisheit of Baltimore; a daughter, Parker W. Packard of Tacoma, Wash.; and seven grandchildren.