Malcolm Davies, teacher, author, college dean


Malcolm Davies, a retired teacher, geographer, author, college dean and Baltimore television innovator, died of arteriosclerosis Friday at the nursing complex of the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville. He was 78.

Dr. Davies, who retired in 1979 as director of engineering, marine science and technology at Baltimore Junior College, now Baltimore City Community College, also helped plan the Maryland Science Center and the National Aquarium.

His service to education included 42 years in the Baltimore school system, starting in elementary grades, and more than 10 years of work in the late 1950s and early 1960s developing science-oriented television programs for local stations.

His teaching career began in 1936 at School 88 in Baltimore; a year later he moved to School 98.

As an avocation, Dr. Davies pursued an interest in flying that began when he was 14 with Charles Lindbergh as his hero. He built a hang glider and in 1940 qualified for a pilot's license at College Park Airport.

With World War II under way in Europe, he took a break from teaching and traveled to Georgia to become a ground flight instructor for British Royal Air Force cadets before the United States entered the war.

After the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, he was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and served as an air navigator and flight instructor at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.

Upon his return to civilian life in 1946, he taught science and geology at Robert Poole School. He earned his master's degree at Johns Hopkins University in 1948, the same year he joined the faculty of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, teaching physics and geography.

In 1951, he went to work at the Baltimore Junior College.

Beginning in the mid-1950s, he also was the host of two popular television programs -- "Working Wonders" and "Science Detective." They aired on WAAM, the early call-letters for Channel 13, which later became WJZ-TV, and on WBAL-TV, Channel 11.

In 1953, he began conducting tours of northern Europe and Scandinavia for teachers, sponsored by the National Education Association.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Davies developed and served as the instructor for 90 programs on cultural geography for WETA-TV in Washington.

After World War II, he remained an education officer in the Naval Reserve at the Fort McHenry Naval Station, retiring with the rank of commander in 1968.

Born in Baltimore, Dr. Davies was a 1932 graduate of Forest Park High School. He earned a bachelor's degree in education in 1936 from Towson State University, then a state normal school for teachers.

In 1972, he earned a doctorate in education from Columbia Teachers College in New York, a division of Columbia University.

During his career, he also served as an adjunct faculty member at six colleges, including Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland and Western Maryland College.

A memorial service is scheduled for 7 p.m. today at the Chapel of the Angels, Charlestown Retirement Community, at 715 Maiden Choice Lane.

Dr. Davies is survived by his wife of 50 years, Doris Pramschufer Davies; his daughter, Elaine Davies Hudson, of DeKalb, Ill.; his son, David Oliver Davies, of Irving, Texas; and five grandchildren.

The family suggested that memorial donations be sent to the Library Memorial Fund for Malcolm Davies, c/o the Director of Alumni Relations, Towson State University, to be applied to the purchase of books in geography and the Earth sciences.

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