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James V. Stout Sr., 83, known as 'Mr. Metric'


James Victor Stout Sr., whose jobs over the years ranged from delivery man to college instructor and who had an evangelic fascination with the metric system, died Thursday at Good Samaritan Hospital of complications following a stroke. He was 83.

Mr. Stout was considered by many who knew him to be a jack-of-all-trades, having also worked over the years as a produce salesman, plumber, painter-decorator, furniture repairman and refinisher, banjo player, radio repairman, ship's radio operator, electronics teacher, broadcast engineer, locksmith, welder and organist.

"He was really a self-taught man," said his daughter, Marlene D. Bauer of Baltimore.

Mr. Stout devoted his retirement years to informing others about the merits of liters and centimeters, teaching evening metrics classes at Johns Hopkins and Morgan State universities. He advocated national conversion to the metric system.

Mr. Stout's fascination with the metric system took hold when he was a boy, spending hours with a ham radio. His interest grew as he learned more about frequencies, kilocycles and megacycles (old terms for kilohertz and megahertz).

Working as a substitute teacher for the city and county public school systems after his retirement in 1975, Mr. Stout made a point of ending each class with a discussion of metrics. "The students used to call him 'Mr. Metric,' " said his daughter. "He was very proud of that nickname."

Long before substitute teaching, he was an electronics instructor for the Department of Education in the late 1930s. From 1941 to 1944, he taught day and evening classes in electronics to defense plant workers, then was a radio operator in the merchant marine in the latter part of World War II.

In 1946, he opened an electronics shop in the basement of his Govans home, where he repaired and serviced transmitters, receivers, television sets and other electrical equipment.

Mr. Stout also was a partner in Pro-Tech Athletics Inc., a corporation that sold athletic equipment.

In 1928, Mr. Stout moved to Baltimore from Fonde, a small town in Bell County, Ky.

In 1931, he and Catherine C. Gross were married. Mrs. Stout died in 1988.

A resident of Govans for 47 years, he owned a second house in Northeast Baltimore where he rented out apartments. He moved into one of those apartments five years ago.

Mr. Stout was a member of the American Legion, the United States Metric Association, the Engineers Club, the Institute of Radio Engineers, the Maryland Yacht Club, the United States Power Squadron and the Patapsco River Power Squadron.

In the mid-1980s, Mr. Stout was made a member of the Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels, for his achievements in so many different fields. This honor also earned him the nickname "Colonel."

Services will be held at 9 p.m. today at Lemmon-Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home, 10 W. Padonia Road, Timonium.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, James V. Stout Jr. of Baltimore; a brother, Jacob Daniel Stout of Huron, Ohio; two sisters, Margaret Kofsky and Nina Ingles, both of Sandusky, Ohio; his friend, Evelyn Esler of Baltimore; eight grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

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