A. William Criswell, 67, mechanical engineer


A. William Criswell, a mechanical engineer and armored vehicle expert, died of heart failure April 3 at St. Joseph Medical Center. The Timonium resident was 67.

Mr. Criswell was born and raised in Baltimore and graduated in 1954 from Polytechnic Institute. In 1959, he earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Drexel University in Philadelphia.

He later served with the Army Corps of Engineers at Fort Meade, attaining the rank of lieutenant.

During a four-decade career, Mr. Criswell worked at Westinghouse Electric Co. in Linthicum, AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, Aberdeen Proving Ground and most recently at United Defense's BMY Combat Systems Division in York, Pa.

During the early 1960s, while at AAI, he worked on the design, manufacture and installation of full-size cockpit simulators for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Apollo command module and lunar landing vehicle.

Mr. Criswell's work earned him several awards from the Army.

"He was recognized as an expert in the study of armored vehicle mobility and the design of tracks for off-road conditions. He also frequently participated in field tests to evaluate his designs," said longtime friend William S. Thayer.

"To further his interests concerning military vehicles, he had an extensive collection of tank models, including current and historical units. He conducted in-depth studies on the ground and air campaigns of World War II and had an extensive personal library on these subjects," Mr. Thayer said.

He was an avid bass fisherman and enjoyed visiting Ocean City and the Eastern Shore.

Services were held Tuesday.

Mr. Criswell is survived by his wife of 15 years, the former Katherine VanSant; a son, Michael W.E. Criswell of Phoenix; two daughters, Kari E. Thomas of Hampstead and Lise E. Criswell of Baltimore; a sister, Shirley Riley-Gray of Ellicott City; and a grandson. His marriage to Mona Criswell Dinsmore ended in divorce.

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