Gwen Darwin McDade, a retired architect who worked on the Johns Hopkins medical campus and later designed structures for the State Highway Administration, died of heart disease Saturday at his Glen Arm home. He was 87.
Born in Verona, Pa., he was the son of a contractor and a secretary. The family lived in New Kensington, Pa.
Mr. McDade joined the Army immediately after graduating from New Kensington High School. He was assigned to an infantry unit fighting in Belgium during World War II. Family members said he was injured as he was loading heavy- armament shell casings during the Battle of the Bulge. He recuperated in military hospitals in Europe.
After the war, he earned an architecture degree at Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh and belonged to the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity.
Mr. McDade worked in Pittsburgh architectural offices before a friend recruited him to work in Puerto Rico. He worked in San Juan for nearly a dozen years and designed a plant for Union Carbide, an Avon cosmetics office building and shopping centers. He also had commissions from the Episcopal diocese and created a church near San Juan and a seminary in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
He also designed an observation tower and visitors shelters at the El Yunque National Rain Forest in northeast Puerto Rico.
"He was proud that all his structures survived multiple hurricanes and tropical storms," said his wife, the former Patricia Margaret Pereyo. "His first love was industrial design."
In 1968, he and his family moved to Baltimore, where he joined the capital improvements group of Hopkins Hospital.
He later set up his own architectural practice on St. Paul and on Charles streets in Charles Village. He worked in interior design and space planning for Union Memorial Hospital and did other work, including the design of salt domes and a Cumberland truck-weighing station for the Maryland State Highway Administration.
"He was basically the architect for the State Highway Administration," said a former co-worker, Jim Keseling of Westminster. "He designed maintenance facilities from one end of the state to the other, from Keyer's Ridge to Salisbury and Leonardtown to Cecil County."
After giving up his Charles Street office, he worked from a home office and retired in 1998.
"My father suggested storing highway salt in a dome because there was less wasted space than in a rectangular barn," said his daughter, Pamela M. Johnson of Lutherville. "He found a Canadian firm that could build the structure in the right shape."
Mr. McDade also helped design a ship simulator complex at the Maritime Institute of Technology on Hammonds Ferry Road in North Linthicum.
"When we moved here from San Juan, he bought a 4-acre lot in Glen Arm," his daughter said. "It was pretty much devoid of trees; after he got done with it, he had over 200 planted. He did all his own gardening."
When working on the Maritime Institute project, he traveled to Germany and was inspired by Unter den Linden, an avenue of trees in Berlin. When he returned, he planted a line of lindens along his home's front boundary line.
"He liked to plant something and watch it grow," his wife said. "He's from Pittsburgh and remembered that it was all cement."
In the fall, he enlisted his five children to help rake the leaves.
Family members said that Mr. McDade missed the beach at Puerto Rico and bought a condominium in North Ocean City, where he hosted extended family gatherings.
A memorial service will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. John's Lutheran Church, 13300 Manor Road, Glen Arm, where he was a member.
In addition to his wife of 55 years and his daughter, survivors include a son, David G. McDade of Cockeysville; four daughters, Leslie M. Bowen of Bel Air, Caren E. Norris of Bethesda and Deborah M. Ratliff of Falls Church, Va.; 15 grandchildren; and a great-grandson.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun