Francis W. Rohart Jr., 82, corporate pilot, veteran


Francis W. Rohart Jr., a retired corporate pilot, died of stroke complications June 3 at his Oakenshawe home. He was 82.

Born in Newport, R.I., he moved to Baltimore in 1941.

After naval service as an aircraft electrician in the latter years of World War II, including duty aboard the carrier USS Ranger, he became an electrician at Fairchild Aviation in Hagerstown and Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point shipyard. For five years in the early 1950s, he was a truck driver for Roadway Express.

Mr. Rohart received flying lessons in exchange for doing electrical work for an aircraft maintenance business at the old Harbor Field in Dundalk. He owned an open-cockpit plane.

In 1957 he was hired by C.J. Langenfelder and Son, a heavy construction firm, as its co-pilot. He flew Langenfelder executives on business trips and to construction sites as far away as California, Bermuda and the Panama Canal. He flew a Douglas DC-3 and a Fairchild F-27 jet prop, and eventually became chief pilot.

On a return trip from the Kentucky Derby, his plane landed in a heavy rainstorm at Harbor Field.

"The DC-3 aquaplaned off the end of the runway into Colgate Creek," said his wife of 44 years, the former Alice Ludwig, who met her husband while working as a map draftsman at the old Dundalk airfield. All the passengers were safe, but the plane sank and was later salvaged.

In 1991 he stopped flying and became a part-time safety officer at the Langenfelder office on Pulaski Highway. He retired in 2000.

He enjoyed fishing in Ontario, Canada.

Services were held Tuesday.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two daughters, Leanne R. Watts of Glen Burnie and Gwendolyn R. Kraus of Catonsville; two sisters, Dorothy R. Guderjohn of New Freedom, Pa., and Eleanor R. Ashford of Cleveland; and six grandsons.

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