William D. Townsend, former assistant director of Baltimore County's Department of Public Works and a World War II veteran, died Feb. 23 at Forest Hill Health and Rehabilitation Center in Harford County. He was 92.
"The cause of death was failure to thrive," said a son, Michael Townsend, who edited The Baltimore Sun's Harford Sun from 1980 to 1993 and lives in Burlington, Vt.
The son of a hunting and fishing guide and a restaurant worker, William Dumond Townsend was born and raised in Timonium. He was a 1939 graduate of Towson High School.
Before he was inducted into the Army, Mr. Townsend eloped and married the former Majorie Ann Snoskey in 1942.
During World War II, Mr. Townsend served as a scout and participated in the New Guinea and Philippines campaigns as a member of the Red Arrow Division.
"They spent 556 days in combat, more than any other American division," said Mr. Townsend.
In 1953, Mr. Townsend and his wife settled in Timonium, where he lived for the remainder of his life. She died in 1998.
Mr. Townsend was assistant director of Baltimore County's Department of Public Works for more than three decades. He retired in the 1980s.
"He never took a sick day in 35 years," said his son.
Former Democrats, Mr. Townsend and his wife founded Young Democrats for Republicans in the early 1960s, which supported Spiro T. Agnew's campaign to become Baltimore County executive.
After Vice President Agnew resigned in disgrace in 1973, the couple never again participated in local politics, his son said.
Mr. Townsend was an inveterate writer of letters to newspaper editors on the subject of Maryland current affairs.
An American history buff, he was also particularly interested in Townsend family history. An ancestor, Robert Townsend, had been a spy for George Washington during the British occupation of New York and Long Island during the Revolutionary War.
Mr. Townsend was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution, War of 1812 Society, the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at the Lemmon Funeral Home of Dulaney Valley, 10 W. Padonia Road.
In addition to his son, Mr. Townsend is survived by another son, Stephen Townsend of Fairbanks, Alaska; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. Another son, William Townsend II, died in 2002.