William K. Brendle, surgeon, volunteer

February 13, 2010|By Chris Kaltenbach

William K. Brendle, a private-practice physician for more than three decades who spent much of his retirement carving duck decoys and volunteering at the Havre de Grace Decoy Museum, died Feb. 4 at his home in Havre de Grace. He was 89.

Born in Long Island, N.Y., Dr. Brendle graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park. He earned his medical degree from the University of Maryland, Baltimore, training both there and at nearby Mercy and Maryland General hospitals. During World War II, he served as a flight surgeon in the Army Air Forces, eventually retiring with the rank of lieutenant colonel from the Maryland Air National Guard.

Dr. Brendle, who moved from Baltimore's Hamilton neighborhood to Havre de Grace in 1953, operated surgical clinics there and in Fallston for 34 years. He also served as chief of staff and chief of surgery at Harford Memorial Hospital.

After his retirement in 1987, Dr. Brendle would spend hours on one of his favorite hobbies: carving wood. An enthusiastic duck hunter, he especially enjoyed carving duck decoys; about 30 are on display at his Havre de Grace home, said his wife of 59 years, the former Evelyn Smith.

"He copied the old masters - each carver had their own style," said Mrs. Brendle. "We've got a roomful of them."

Dr. Brendle was a frequent volunteer at the decoy museum, showing visitors around, working on exhibits, helping to raise funds, pitching in whenever or wherever necessary.

"He was a very faithful volunteer, active in many aspects of the museum," said Eleanor Coale, a fellow volunteer for some 20 years. "One of his yearly projects was to put together our very distinctive wooden Christmas tree, which was decorated with duck heads that had been donated by the carvers. At a very early age, he started his twin grandchildren coming with him. This past Christmas, because of his illness, was the first where we didn't see them."

Dr. Brendle also enjoyed playing chess and collecting U.S. postage stamps. He could frequently be seen driving around Havre de Grace in his truck, touring the town, said Mrs. Brendle.

During the 1970s, he served as a wildlife commissioner for the state of Maryland. A member of the board of directors of Columbian Bank, he was also a Mason and a member of the American Legion.

A memorial service for Dr. Brendle is scheduled for 10 a.m. today at St. John's Episcopal Church, 114 N. Union Ave., in Havre de Grace.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Elizabeth Brendle-Williams of Havre de Grace and Ruth Brendle Read of Old Town, Maine; a brother, Robert L. Brendle Sr. of Baltimore; and two grandchildren. Another daughter, Kathleen Anne Brendle, died in 2003.

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