Rudolph E. Linder, founder and president of R.E. Linder Steel Erection Co. Inc., whose name became familiar through the signs and equipment at major construction sites in the Baltimore-Washington area, died of cancer Saturday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Towson resident was 82.
Mr. Linder's company, which he started in 1954, was a fixture in downtown Baltimore building in the 1970s and 1980s. Among his projects were restoration of the City Hall dome, the Fort McHenry tunnel and the 250 West Pratt, Union Trust and Merritt towers. He also worked on several embassies in Washington and high-rise condominiums in Ocean City.
Son Gary J. Linder, who worked in the family business, recalled many trips to Ocean City as a child that included time on his father's pontoon boat. English Towers was the first high-rise his father worked on at the shore, and after that, "they came one right after the other, and he just went right up the beach," he said.
In 1980, Mr. Linder founded Linder Crane Service Co., to serve the steel and maritime industries in the Baltimore-Washington area. His two companies' services ranged from equipment rental to project management. He closed R.E. Linder Steel Erection in 1987 when he retired, and Linder Crane Service Co. was sold in 2001, his son said.
He shunned computers, his son said. "The slide rule could tell him everything," he said.
Mr. Linder traveled in Europe and maintained an office in Paris for several years.
"He mixed business with pleasure. It was almost his hobby," said Gary Linder, who lives in Towson. And he collected items on his trips, including a 1962 Mercedes convertible he saw on the street in Switzerland - and an Italian chalet.
He had the chalet shipped home on a barge with French-made parts for another Linder project, the check-in area at Baltimore-Washington International Airport, his son said. After he returned, he bought a 40-acre slice of mountain near Thurmont and rebuilt the tile-roofed cabin there.
Mr. Linder was born in Germany and moved to the United States in 1923 with his family. They settled in Pittsburgh, where his father was an architect.
He earned his bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Carnegie Institute of Technology, now Carnegie Mellon University. He served in the Navy during World War II and in Korea, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander. During World War II, he was stationed in Trinidad, his son said, and sometimes used his German skills to interview captured U-boat crewmen.
Mr. Linder was treasurer and director of the National Erectors Association and a member of the board of the Engineering Society of Baltimore and Lyric Foundation. He was president of the Steel Erectors Association of Baltimore and a member of the American Institute of Steel Construction, American Subcontractors Association, and the Space Structures Research Centre of the University of Surrey in England.
He was a member of the Baltimore Country Club, the Maryland Club, the Dunes Club in Ocean City, the Masons' Mount Moriah Lodge 116, the Scottish Rite and Boumi Temple.
His marriage of 20 years to the former Katie Burrus ended in divorce.
A memorial service will be held at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at Towson Presbyterian Church, 400 W. Chesapeake Ave., where he was a member.
In addition to his son, he is survived by his wife of 36 years, the former Joanne Myers; two other sons, Richard E. Linder and Randle B. Linder, both of Towson; a sister, Gisella Pollock of Potomac; four grandchildren; and two nieces.