James David Bryan Sr., president of Instrument Corporation of America in Timonium and a designer of electrical instruments, died Thursday of lung cancer at his home in Glyndon. He was 80.
Mr. Bryan, who was born in Watson, Miss., and grew up and graduated from high school in Germantown, Tenn., earned his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1943.
Mr. Bryan's career began during World War II, when he helped in the development of radar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Radiation Laboratory in Cambridge, Mass. After the war, he went to work in New York for the Arma Corp.
Mr. Bryan came to Baltimore in 1947 to work for Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, and in 1950 he helped establish Aircraft Armaments Inc. (AAI) in Northwest Baltimore, with Win Barr, Bob Chapman, Jack Frank, Joel Jacobson and Harry Rowland.
From 1950 until 1960, Mr. Bryan was chief electronics engineer for the defense contractor, which later moved to Cockeysville.
"He was extremely intelligent and a very determined fellow. He was a good boss who knew how to bring along the younger staff members," said William A. Scanga, a retired electronics engineer who was hired in the early days of AAI.
"He was more of an engineer than a basic scientist; however, he was dogged, and when he was working on something would work all hours," said Mr. Scanga, who lives in Lutherville.
In 1960, he left AAI and established Instrument Corporation of America in Govans, which manufactured electronic office duplicating and medical therapy equipment in the 1970s. By the time he retired in 1995, the company had relocated to Timonium.
A reserved and studious man, Mr. Bryan designed many electrical devices during his career, including a disguised CB antenna to prevent theft from cars, as well as an instrument that could measure the temperature of paint as it was applied to new cars, said his wife of 46 years, the former Marie E. Kindervatter. The temperature instrument also was used by the Johns Hopkins University to gauge the temperature of penguins in the Arctic, she said.
He also designed an office machine that made it possible during the 1970s and '80s to create stencils electronically for reproducing print and photos.
"He had the ability to look for niche products that the public needed, and then he'd design, develop and sell them," Mr. Scanga said.
"He had mental hobbies, namely astrophysics, and had a great interest in the creation of the universe," said his son, J. David Bryan Jr. of Towson.
In his home library, with its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves filled with books, Mr. Bryan enjoyed spending hours reading.
"They were an all-consuming interest," his son said.
No services will be held.
In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by two stepdaughters, Betty-Jeanne Cousins of Henderson, Nev., and Bonnie Lee Sturm of Columbia; two sisters, Wynona Sullivan of Biloxi, Miss., and Mary Frances Busby of Plainview, Texas; and three step-grandchildren.
Sun staff writer Joan Jacobson contributed to this article.