Bruce H. Chilcote, retired BWI engineer and avid cross country camper

Bruce H. Chilcote, retired operations director at Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport

Bruce H. Chilcote, retired operations director for Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, died of Parkinson's disease complications Oct. 2 at Oakcrest Retirement Village in Parkville. The former Lutherville resident was 91.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of George Hamilton Chilcote, an auto mechanic shop owner, and Anna Young, a homemaker. Raised on 41st Street in Hampden, he was a 1942 graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. He completed the freshman year at the Johns Hopkins University's school of engineering before entering the Army in March 1943.

He met his future wife, Elaine Mae Byrne, when they both were children in the 41st Street neighborhood. She lived several doors away. They corresponded during World War II and married in 1948.

He completed basic training in an engineering unit and qualified for the Army Specialized Training Program at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. When the engineering program closed, he was assigned to 96th Infantry Division and served in the invasion of Leyte Gulf in the Philippines and at Okinawa, Japan, working in heavy weapons. He attained the rank of sergeant and was a squad leader.

He was awarded the Bronze Star for service in combat. A field telephone he was using was shot out of his hand. The impact left him with tinnitus, a persistent ringing or whistling in the ear. The condition remained with him the rest of his life, and he remained active in tinnitus research programs.

"My father was a spiritual man and he later wrote that the 23rd Psalm sustained him in combat," said his daughter, Sharon Elaine Chilcote-Doner of Charlottesville, Va. That psalm contains the passage "The Lord is my shepherd."

After the war he returned to Baltimore and resumed his studies at Johns Hopkins under the GI Bill.

Mr. Chilcote joined the Baltimore City Bureau of Highways and became a resident engineer for highway construction. Family members said he worked in the relocation of state roads at the Liberty Dam construction project.

In 1955, he was selected to serve as a senior engineer with the Department of Aviation at then-Friendship International Airport, later BWI. He served as principal engineer and airport engineer.

In 1967, Charles P. Crane, chairman of the Baltimore City Airport Commission, named Mr. Chilcote as assistant airport director. After the State of Maryland purchased the airport from Baltimore City, he was appointed its director of operations, a position he held until his retirement nearly 40 years ago.

"He was in charge of fire, police, security and snow removal," said his daughter, a resident of Charlottesville, Va. "I remember Christmas days and we would be finishing dinner and he would have to leave to supervise shoveling the runways at Friendship."

He earned the title of accredited airport executive as a member of the American Association of Airport Executives, and served as a member of the Security Committee of the Airport Operators Council. While developing and implementing an airport security program, he began the use of employee magnetic photo ID cards that had been newly developed by IBM.

Family members said Mr. Chilcote spent his boyhood summers north of Gettysburg, Pa., at his cousins' lumber mill and apple orchard, a spot known as Cole Brothers. The experience gave him a lifelong connection with the outdoors, which he shared with his wife and children.

He camped at the Narrows on Conewago Creek and later bought a Wayfarer pop-up trailer for a five-week trip to the American West.

He and his wife became members of the Family Motor Coach Association and enjoyed many years of motor home touring.

He also enjoyed sailing on the Chesapeake Bay with his friends. He was a member of a social group, the Ocean City Twelve.

Mr. Chilcote lived for more than 40 years on McPherson Court in Lutherville. In 2000 he and his wife moved to Oak Crest Village, where he took enrichment courses.

He was also active in the 96th Division Dead Eyes, a military reunion group. He raised funds for the World War II Memorial in Washington.

He was a former member of the Roland Avenue Methodist Church in Hampden.

He served as secretary of the church council, property chairman and head deacon of the First Lutheran Church of Towson, which he joined in 1966.

Private services were held.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, James Hamilton Chilcote of Ellicott City; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. His wife of 66 years died in May.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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