James J. Connolly

James J. Connolly ( )

James J. Connolly, a retired Bethlehem Steel Corp. manager whose career spanned 40 years, died July 4 of liver cancer at his Towson home. He was 85.

The son of Harry T. Connolly, president of the old Washington, Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad, and Marguerite Kram Connolly, a homemaker, James Joseph Connolly was born in Annapolis and later moved with his family to Homeland.

He was a 1942 graduate of Mount Washington School for Boys and in 1946 graduated from Boys' Latin School. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1950 in biology from what is now Loyola University Maryland.

After serving in the Army for two years, he went to work at Sparrows Point in 1952, and rose to management positions in Bethlehem Steel's galvanizing and finishing department, which was part of the cold sheet mill.

Galvalume, a metal sheet roofing product that is made of steel coil coated with a metal alloy, was invented by Bethlehem Steel.

In 1965, during Galvalume's difficult trial runs, Mr. Connolly, who was line foreman, suggested a solution that made the process possible and earned him the sobriquet from colleagues as "the man who saved Galvalume."

He assisted in the production technology and quality control of Galvalume sheet production and related technologies for domestic and foreign licensees such as Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Russia and Japan, where he assisted in line design and startup campaigns for production of the product.

Mr. Connolly later went to work for Bethlehem International Engineering Corp., which was a subsidiary of Bethlehem Steel Corp. He retired from BIEC in 1992 when it was sold.

A former Rodgers Forge resident, he had lived for the last 54 years in the Chatterleigh neighborhood of Towson.

Mr. Connolly enjoyed traveling and collecting distinctive items from the countries he visited. He also liked gardening and was a "Mr. Fix-It" around his home, said his wife of 18 years, the former Raymo Victor.

Mr. Connolly also liked to entertain family and friends with his cooking.

"He was the main cook for our family and liked cooking steaks on the grill," said a daughter, Julianne "Judy" Johnson of Baldwin.

His wife of 43 years, the former Julianne Lewis, died in 1994.

Mr. Connolly was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson.

Services are private.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Connolly is survived by three other daughters, Maureen Chamberlain of Taneytown, Carolanne Kappus of Forest Hill and Marianne Connolly of Nashville, Tenn.; a stepdaughter, Suzanne Stromberg of Lutherville; five grandchildren; and four step-grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com