Ernest Lawrence Dinning III, former vice president of the Maryland Lava Co. and an avid sailor, died of multiple organ failure Monday at Beebe Memorial Hospital in Lewes, Del. He was 77.
Mr. Dinning, who was known as "Laury," was born in Baltimore and raised in Ruxton. He attended McDonogh School until enlisting in the Navy during World War II. He served as a boatswain aboard destroyers in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean, and on a mine sweeper in the China Sea and Yangtzee River.
Returning to Baltimore after his discharge in 1946, Mr. Dinning went to work for Harford Talc Co. in Dublin, which had been established in 1933 by his grandfather. He later became vice president of the company, which produces electrical insulators and is now called Maryland Lava.
Mr. Dinning retired in 1985 from the business, which is still owned and operated by his family.
For many years, he lived on his farm, Grandview, near Hickory, where he bred and trained thoroughbred horses. He also enjoyed fox hunting.
An avid yachtsman, he had owned and sailed a succession of 40-foot sloops named Teetotaler.
"He was no teetotaler and used cases of beer for ballast," said his brother, John B. Dinning of Ruxton, laughing.
Mr. Dinning spent winters in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and summers at Bethany Beach, Del. He was a member of the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, Potapskut Sailing Club and Lauderdale Yacht Club.
He was a communicant of the Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, 1401 Carrollton Ave., Ruxton, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 23.
In addition to his brother, survivors include a son, Ernest Lawrence Dinning IV of Rock Hall; two grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; a nephew; two nieces; and his companion, Beatrice Buchheister of Bethany Beach. His marriage to the former Sally Zantzinger ended in divorce.