Ralph W. Townsend

Ralph William Townsend, a retired computer and systems expert, died of heart failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia. The longtime Columbia resident was 82. (BALTIMORE SUN / January 25, 2012)

Ralph William Townsend, a retired computer and systems expert, died Sunday of heart failure at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Columbia.

The longtime Columbia resident was 82.

Mr. Townsend was born and raised in Fitchburg, Mass., where he graduated in 1947 from Fitchburg Senior High School.

He enlisted in the Air Force in 1948 and worked as an air traffic controller until being discharged in 1952.

In the 1950s, he worked for McDonnell Douglas Corp. In the early 1960s he joined Rockwell International, where he was assigned to the Apollo lunar spacecraft program.

Mr. Townsend was appointed head of the systems at Mid-Atlantic Toyota in 1971, where he implemented a computer system that kept track of inventory.

He established Columbia General Services in 1978, a Columbia computer consulting firm that designed and installed system programs.

Mr. Townsend sold the business in 1991 and retired.

He enjoyed swimming, traveling and working on cars.

Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Crest Lawn Memorial Gardens, 2150 Mount View Road, Marriottsville.

Surviving are his wife of 58 years, the former Joeann E. Beall; a son, Mark W. Townsend of Columbia; two daughters, Karen J. Watson of Eldersburg and Kathrine L. Montague-Townsend of Danville, Ind.; a brother, Richard L. Townsend of Kingsport, Tenn.; and eight grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com