Joseph Emmett Queen Jr., who spent three decades as a systems engineer for Westinghouse and its successor company, Northrop Grumman, died of unknown causes Sept. 12 at his home in Riva. He was 57.

A Baltimore native, Mr. Queen grew up in and around the Guilford and Roland Park neighborhoods. He attended the Cathedral School, Loyola High School and Loyola College (now Loyola University Maryland). He received his master's degree in computer science from the Johns Hopkins University in 1983.

Growing up, Mr. Queen displayed an unquenchable desire to figure out how things worked, his family said. He was buying electronic calculators and computers back when they were still novelties, and even his love of music took an inquisitive turn when, in the early 1970s, he built his own synthesizer, his family said.

"I always knew he was going to be some kind of scientist," said his sister Patricia Samour of Haverhill, Mass.

Mr. Queen began work at Westinghouse in April 1981. Although the sensitive nature of his work in defense technology kept him from talking about it much, Mr. Queen's ingenuity was known.

His co-worker Mike LaRoi said Mr. Queen had discovered unexpected applications for new technology. Mr. Queen was most recently assigned to the Electronics Systems Sector at Northrop Grumman.

"Joe was the gadget geek extraordinaire," Mr. LaRoi said. "He was so intelligent and really took me under his wing. He showed me the ropes. He really wanted me to succeed."

Mr. Queen had a lifelong love of sailing, nurtured during childhood summers in Sherwood Forest, on the south shore of the Severn River in Anne Arundel County, and in Ocean City. He later bought a home in Riva, Anne Arundel County, where he enthusiastically shared his love of sailing with his family.

He also enjoyed putting people in an inner tube and dragging them behind his boat.

"He would try to make them fly off, grinning all the while," his niece, Shannon Lynch, recalled of Mr. Queen and his inner-tube hijinks. "He wanted people to have fun."

As befits a man who spent so much time near the water, Mr. Queen had a passion for seafood and could often be found eating at Mike's Crabhouse in Riva, Ms. Lynch said. He also enjoyed scuba diving, photography and racing fast cars.

In addition to his sister, Mr. Queen is survived by his mother, the former Lillian B. Burns, of Timonium; another sister, Carol Wier, of Cockeysville; and a brother, William E. Queen, of Ellicott City.

Funeral services were held Friday.

chris.kaltenbach@baltsun.com

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