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Jacob Beser, flew on Hiroshima, Nagasaki missionsJacob...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Jacob Beser, flew on Hiroshima, Nagasaki missions

Jacob Beser, the only crew member to fly on both atomic bomb missions over Japan at the end of World War II, died early yesterday of cancer at his home on St. Albans Road in Pikesville. He was 71.

Mr. Beser was a young officer in the Army Air Forces on Aug. 6, 1945, when he flew aboard the plane Enola Gay on the bombing mission that devastated Hiroshima; three days later, he was aboard the plane Bock's Car when it bombed Nagasaki.

The Japanese surrender came five days after the Nagasaki attack, bringing an end to the global conflict.

Mr. Beser, who retired in 1985 as a Westinghouse Electric Corp. engineer and manager, always maintained that the decision to drop the bombs was correct at the time in the face of the casualties expected in an invasion of Japan.

He frequently spoke about the atomic bomb missions and his role in them. He was the radar operator, in charge of electronic counter-measures and protecting the bombs against the possibility that a radio broadcast could accidentally trigger the electronic part of their fuses.

In 1988, Mr. Beser wrote a book, "Hiroshima and Nagasaki Revisited," which covered the mission and his 1985 visits to the cities on the 40th anniversary of the attacks.

He appeared on both ABC and CBS television broadcasts from Japan during the anniversary observances.

In a 1980 television drama, "The Enola Gay, the Men, the Mission, the Bomb," he was portrayed by actor Billy Crystal.

A native of Baltimore and a graduate of City College, Mr. Beser interrupted his engineering studies at the Johns Hopkins University to join the Army the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

As a result of trips to the atomic facility at Los Alamos, N. M. to work on the fusing, and guesswork based on the scientific qualifications of people with whom he worked, Mr. Beser reportedly had a more accurate idea as to the reasons behind their special training than did most other members of the 509th Composite Group of the 20th Air Force.

After the war, he worked for the Army Corps of Engineers in the construction of the Sandia, N.M., laboratories later used by the Atomic Energy Commission for weapons research. He then became a research associate at the Johns Hopkins medical school, where he helped to develop a pump used to circulate blood during heart surgery.

He worked for the AAI Corp. from 1951 until 1956, and then began his career at Westinghouse. He retired from the Defense and Electronic Systems Center in Linthicum as deputy program manager and subcontracts manager of the defense meteorological satellite program.

A former president of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, he also served as a member of the board of the national Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund and as president of its migration service agency.

He was on the boards of the Jewish Family and Children's Services and the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, where he was active in the brotherhood.

A former commander of the Maccabean Post of the American Legion, he also had been an adult leader in the Boy Scouts and was awarded the Shofar Award of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting.

Mr. Beser also enjoyed boating.

He is survived by his wife, the former Sylvia Rosen; four sons, Larry, Nicholas and Eric Beser, all of Owings Mills, and Jerome Beser of Pikesville; a sister, Sonia Snyder of Alexandria, Va.; and eight grandchildren.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, 7401 Park Heights Ave. In the words of Harold T. Rubin, president of ITC Inc., Peter F. Osterchrist, the founder and chairman of the Towson-based business, was "a dynamic individual and a consummate entrepreneur."

Mr. Osterchrist, 56, was among four people who perished Tuesday afternoon when their twin-engine turbo prop airplane broke apart and crashed about 2,000 yards short of a runway at the New Castle County Airport in Delaware.

"In addition to building a company, Peter was very adroit at building a staff," said Mr. Rubin. "This is an extremely strong, close-knit organization. Obviously, the mood is very somber. He was the motivating force behind the company."

Also killed in the crash were Mr. Osterchrist's wife, Elisabeth, 56; pilot James W. Ball, 57, of Baltimore;and co-pilot James R. Kestner, 56, of Lititz, Pa. Their nine-passenger Beechcraft King Air 200 had taken off 45 minutes earlier from Martin State Airport in Middle River.

An avid golf and tennis player, Mr. Osterchrist emigrated from Nuremberg, Germany, in 1958. He lived in the 300 block of Lochview Terrace, Timonium, where he and his first wife, the former Ingeborg Weishaupt, raised their two sons, Heiko, 33, and Eric, 26. Ingeborg Osterchrist died in July 1990, and Mr. Osterchrist married Elisabeth last September.

While working as a steel importer, Mr. Osterchrist started the business that later became ITC Inc. in the basement of his home. He opened a New York branch of the European Thyssen Steel Mill Co. for importing and went independent with ITC in 1964.

Since then, the privately held company has grown to include a subsidiary in Tokyo, and branch offices in Korea and Taiwan. The company also sells minerals and fibers used in manufacturing overseas. About 150 people work for the company in its affiliates and subsidiaries. There are 35 employees at ITC's corporate headquarters on Joppa Road in Towson.

Heiko Osterchrist, vice president of the company's trade division, said of his father: "He was an inspiration for a lot of people."

Another son, Eric, is an assistant plant manager at Polymer Resource Group Inc., a plastics recycling company of which Mr. Osterchrist was also chairman.

In addition to building his business, Mr. Osterchrist also worked closely with Gov. William Donald Schaefer to attract international business to Baltimore and promote the state's exports. Five years ago, the firm received an award for excellence in exporting from President Ronald Reagan

Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, who attended that 1987 award ceremony at the White House, called Mr. Osterchrist's death "a tremendous loss for the State of Maryland."

Frank Traynor, the governor's press secretary, said Mr. Osterchrist had breakfast with the governor Tuesday morning. "He was a good man who will be missed by a lot of folks in Maryland," the governor said through Mr. Traynor.

Mr. Osterchrist is survived by his sons and two grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. June 27 at the Towson United Methodist Church, Hampton Lane and Dulaney Valley Road, Towson. Memorial contributions may be made to the Ingeborg Osterchrist Oncology Endowment, c/o W. Lee Thomas Esq., 409 Washington Ave., Suite 314, Towson 21204.

Anthony J. Rubino

Academy educator

Anthony J. "Tony" Rubino, who formerly headed the U.S. Naval Academy's physical education department, died early yesterday at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center of injuries from an automobile collision on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

Mr. Rubino, 77, was westbound when his Cadillac was sideswiped byan Oldsmobile veering out of a lane temporarily designated for eastbound traffic. Mr. Rubino's car then collided head-on with a Honda.

A longtime resident of Annapolis, he was a former chairman of the President's Council on Physical Fitness. He was on the faculty of the academy's physical education department for 32 years, and served as deputy director of physical education -- the senior civilian position in the department -- from 1959 until his retirement in 1980.

Born in Malvern, Pa., Mr. Rubino was a graduate of Pennsylvania State University, where he lettered in track, cross country and boxing. He was first assigned to the academy in 1942 under the V-5 program of physical fitness for Navy fliers during World War II. He later retired as a captain in the Naval Reserve.

Mr. Rubino returned to the academy in 1948 to succeed the legendary Spike Webb as boxing coach. At that time, Mr. Rubino began to develop the curriculum for the physical education department.

Mr. Rubino worked with the U. S. Olympic boxing teams in 1948, 1952 and 1956. In 1955 he was appointed a member of the Olympic Boxing Committee. He was chairman of the first President's Council on Physical Fitness and was the co-author of a book titled "Boxing," a basic text used by a number of colleges and universities.

He was a founding member of the Annapolis Touchdown Club, served as its president and was a long-time member of its board of directors.

Survivors include his wife of 47 years, the former Ruth Elizabeth Louis; a son, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Rubino, stationed in Philadelphia; three daughters, Jane Carroll of Madison, Conn., Cheryl Rubino of Raleigh, N.C., and Mary Conrad Rubino of Spring Valley, N.Y.; a brother, Daniel Rubino, and three sisters, Mellie McErlane, Esther Cavuto and Lucy DeFillippo, all of Malvern; and four grandchildren;

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St.Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Annapolis. The family suggested memorial donations to St. Mary's Church.

Jean M. Finnegan

Governor's secretary

A Mass of Christian burial for Jean M. Finnegan, who was secretary to Gov. J. Millard Tawes, will be offered at 11 a.m. today at the Chapel of Our Lady of Angels at the Charlestown Retirement Community, 711 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville.

Miss Finnegan, who was 80, died Sunday of heart failure at Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. She had moved from East Baltimore to Charlestown about two years ago.

Though named Jeanette at her birth in Baltimore, Miss Finnegan preferred to use Jean. She was educated at St. Elizabeth's School and its commercial high school.

She was a purchasing agent for the Glenn L. Martin Co., now Martin Marietta Corp., before she went to work in 1946 as secretary to the head of the former Retail Sales Tax Division in the state comptroller's office.

From 1947 until 1950, she worked as secretary to state Comptroller James J. Lacy.

When Mr. Tawes became comptroller for the second time in 1950, Miss Finnegan stayed on as his secretary and remained his secretary when he became governor in 1959.

After Mr. Tawes left the governor's office in 1967, she became secretary to state Attorney General Francis B. Burch, remaining in that post until her retirement in 1976.

She was a former president and life member of Division No. 4 of the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Survivors include a niece, Kathryn C. Burke, and a nephew, Richard O. Degenhard, both of Catonsville; and grandnieces and grandnephews.

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Leroy M. Witzke

Owned funeral homes

Services for Leroy M. Witzke, a partner in funeral homes in Catonsville and Columbia, will be held at 11 a.m. today at the funeral home at 1630 Edmondson Ave., Catonsville.

Mr. Witzke, who was 74, died Monday of cancer at the Charlestown Retirement Community.

He worked in the funeral business for many years, starting at Harry H. Witzke and Sons, which his father began in 1912. The funeral home changed locations several times in West Baltimore before it was moved to Catonsville in 1969.

In the early 1970s, Leroy's brother, Harry H. Witzke, opened a funeral home in Ellicott City. In 1980, Leroy and his son, Russell C. Witzke, formed their own partnership and opened a second funeral home under their names in Columbia.

Born in Baltimore, Mr. Witzke was a 1935 graduate of the McDonogh School and attended the University of Maryland. He graduated from the Cincinnati College of Mortuary Science in 1938.

He was a former president of the McDonogh Alumni Association and a member of the Catonsville Business Association.

He was also active in the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association and the National Funeral Directors Association.

Mr. Witzke was a former master of the Waverly Lodge of the Masons and grand inspector of the Palestine Lodge. He was also a member of the Scottish Rite and Boumi Temple and its Catonsville Shrine Club.

In addition to his brother and son, he is survived by his wife, the former Marjorie M. Lueders; another son, Wayne Witzke of Salisbury; seven grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.

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