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Robert G. Keane Sr.Shipyard managerRobert Garrett Keane...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Robert G. Keane Sr.

Shipyard manager

Robert Garrett Keane Sr., a retired manager at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Key Highway shipyard, died May 3 at St. Joseph Hospital of complications from asbestosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 80.

Mr. Keane began work in 1934 as a pipefitter's apprentice at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s ship-repair yard on Key Highway. In 1976, after 42 years with the company, he retired as chief estimator, a position that involved negotiating the terms of repair work with shipping companies.

He was known by former shipyard colleagues for his estimating and negotiating skills, said his son, Robert Keane Jr. It was a combination of those skills and his long, curly gray hair that led those colleagues to dub him "the Silver Fox."

Mr. Keane held various positions at the yard, including journeyman, or full mechanic, supervisor and estimator before becoming chief estimator after World War II.

He briefly took courses at Johns Hopkins University on how to operate stream-propulsion plants.

His work included repairing ships and converting merchant vessels and passenger liners for military duty. He also repaired shuttle ships used to carry troops and supplies to Europe during World War II. He often did business with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Mr. Keane negotiated numerous contracts for the Key Highway shipyard and was the lead estimator for several major shipping lines, including U.S. Lines and the Moore-McCormack shipping lines.

In the late 1960s or early '70s, he constructed an aluminum catamaran for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

When he was diagnosed with asbestosis 18 years ago, Mr. Keane was forced to retire.

At age 6, after his mother's death in 1919, Mr. Keane was moved to the German Orphan Home in Catonsville and was reared there. He graduated from Catonsville High School in 1932.

In the mid-1950s, he was active in the organization of the Parkville Optimist Club. He chaired the club's youth activities committee during its first year and for years managed many of its athletic teams.

Mr. Keane served in the U.S. Naval Reserve for several years before World War II.

Services were conducted Friday in Parkville.

In addition to his son Robert of Ellicott City, Mr. Keane is survived by his wife of 54 years, the former Ethel Kohlhoff of Parkville; another son, Louis Keane of Martinez, Calif.; a daughter, Arlene Buchta of Baltimore; two brothers, George Keane of New Iberia, La., and Edward Keane of Baltimore; and eight grandchildren.

John R. Cook

Baltimore contractor

John R. Cook, who operated a home improvement firm, died of cancer at his Southwest Baltimore home Thursday. He was 63.

Mr. Cook founded the company that bore his name in 1980. Earlier, he worked for other contractors and was a truck driver.

Called by some acquaintances the "Duke of Southwest Baltimore," he was known for hiring people who had been released from prison and needed a job.

"He always was trying to help those who were in trouble or were needy," recalled his brother Richard Cook of Clarksville.

Mr. Cook enjoyed playing the harmonica, which he learned as a child. His repertoire included old American folk tunes and classics.

Mr. Cook enjoyed fishing on the Eastern Shore with his wife, the former Rose Germroth, whom he married in 1956.

He was educated in public schools and graduated from Thomas A. Edison High School in 1947. He served with the Marine Corps on Guam and in China until his discharge in 1950.

A memorial service will be conducted at noon tomorrow at the Hubbard Funeral Home, 4107 Wilkens Ave., Baltimore.

Besides his wife and brother Richard, Mr. Cook is survived by a son, Danny Cook, and three daughters, Danette Shue, Deanna Mozina and Donna Almony, all of Baltimore; two other brothers, the Rev. William G. Cook Jr. of Baltimore and James C. Cook of Arnold; three sisters, Myrtle Hodges of Fort Ashby, W.Va., Fanny M. Feeney of Sevierville, Tenn., and Dolores L. Schafer of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.

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Olive R. Ashton

Homemaker

Olive R. Ashton, a Columbia homemaker, died April 29 at the Meridian Nursing Center in Randallstown of cardiovascular disease.

Mrs. Ashton, 89, immigrated to Key West, Fla., in 1960 from her native Sydney, Australia, and moved to Columbia in 1972.

"She was very reserved and very English in her manner," recalled her daughter, Helen Banghart of Columbia. "Her family was the center of her life."

She enjoyed sewing clothes for her grandchildren, knitting and crocheting, reading and playing the piano.

She was educated in public schools in Sydney and was a 1919 graduate of Stotts Business College. She was a secretary in the 1920s.

She and Gilbert Ashton were married in 1927. He died in 1955.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Ashton is survived by another daughter, Beverley Skillings of Silver Spring; seven grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be conducted at 2 p.m. May 19 in the chapel at Crest Lawn Cemetery, 2150 Mount View Road, Marriottsville.

The family suggested contributions to the Alzheimer's Association of Central Maryland, 540 E. Belvedere Ave., Baltimore 21212.

William M. Wyatt

Telephone repairman

William Manual Wyatt, a retired Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. repairman who had been active in his union and Masonic organizations, died of cardiac arrest Saturday at a nursing home in Northern Virginia. He was 88.

Mr. Wyatt, a longtime resident of Northeast Baltimore, worked for the telephone company for nearly a half-century before he retired in 1970.

He was an active member of the Communication Workers of America and was a past president of the C&P; chapter of the Telephone Pioneers, a club of retired telephone workers.

Mr. Wyatt began working for the phone company as a teen-ager in the 1920s, first as a lineman and later as a telephone installer and service representative, said his son, William B. Wyatt of Manassas, Va.

For the last 18 years of his career, he was the repairman for the phones at the Baltimore Sun.

As a young man, Mr. Wyatt was a professional lightweight boxer. He also bowled and played amateur softball and baseball.

He was a leader in the King David Masonic Lodge.

Mr. Wyatt was married for 49 years to Irene A. Wyatt, who died in 1978.

Services will be held at noon Wednesday at the Dippel Funeral Home, 7110 Belair Road.

In addition to his son, Mr. Wyatt is survived by fougrandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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John R. Webster

School headmaster

John Rouse Webster, a Bel Air native and longtime private school headmaster, died at his home in Potomac Friday of an aneurysm of the heart. He was 89.

Mr. Webster was the headmaster emeritus of the Greenwich County Day School in Connecticut, where he educated children of wealthy families -- among them the siblings of former President George Bush.

He was headmaster of the school for 26 years, retiring in 1969.

Born in Bel Air, he returned four years ago to donate bells that ring on the hour at the Harford County Courthouse, in honor of his father, Edwin Webster, and other relatives who practiced law in the county.

Mr. Webster worked his way through Johns Hopkins University by teaching athletics at the Calvert School, graduating in 1926.

He taught for 13 years at the Calvert School and was headmaster at the Allendale School for six years before moving to the Greenwich school.

He was the senior member of the Headmasters Association of Independent Schools and a board member emeritus of the International College secondary school in Beirut.

Mr. Webster, an avid golfer, was a member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club at St. Andrews in Scotland, a former president of Three Score and Ten, a senior golf organization based in Pinehurst, N.C.; former secretary of U.S. Seniors Golf; and a member of several clubs, including the Chevy Chase Club.

Mr. Webster's first wife, the former Betty Van Vorhees, died in 1975. They had been married 30 years.

Mr. Webster is survived by his wife, the former Mary Ragan Adams, who had been a student of his 40 years before their 1979 marriage; a daughter, Betty Webster Bullard of North Sandwich, N.H.; three stepsons; three stepdaughters; and 15 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. tomorrow at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac.

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