Ronald John Schaefer (Baltimore Sun / October 10, 2011)

Ronald J. Schaefer, a retired Northrop Grumman Corp. contracts manager and avid bicyclist, died Oct. 6 of prostate cancer at his Timonium home. He was 78.

The son of a Glenn L. Martin Co. quality-control manager and a homemaker, Mr. Schaefer was born in Baltimore and raised on Marwood Road in Towson.

He was a 1951 graduate of Towson High School, where he met his bride-to-be in a physics class.

"He was a little shy and didn't ask me out until four years later when we were attending a holiday function at Towson Presbyterian Church," said his wife of 54 years, the former Ruth Potter.

Mr. Schaefer attended the cooperative program at the University of Cincinnati, where he earned a bachelor's degree in 1956 in business administration. He worked as a co-op student at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River from 1952 to 1957.

He briefly served in the Army in the late 1950s and studied at the University of Maryland School of Law in the 1960s.

From 1957 to 1968, he worked as a contracts representative for the Glenn L. Martin Co. and later Martin Marietta Corp. He then took a similar job at Westinghouse Electric Corp., now Northrop Grumman Corp., and was a contracts manager at the time of his 1998 retirement.

At the age of 50, Mr. Schaefer began bike riding and was a regular on the Northern Central Railroad Trail, often photographing things he saw along the way. Another favorite bicycling destination was Cadillac Mountain in Maine's Acadia National Park, family members said.

Mr. Schaefer enjoyed listening to music, and collecting antique scales and porcelain Dalmatian dog sculptures.

The 42-year Timonium resident was a former member of Towson Presbyterian Church.

A memorial service was held Saturday.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Schaefer is survived by a son, Mark A. Schaefer of Cockeysville; a daughter, Debra Russell of Victor, N.Y.; and two grandchildren. Another son, Douglas J. Schaefer, died in 1999.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com