Robert Francis Awalt, a Navy veteran and former engineer and engineering teacher from Timonium, died of Parkinson's disease Friday at Oak Crest Village. He was 82.
Mr. Awalt was born in Baltimore and graduated in 1942 from Polytechnic Institute. At age 19, he graduated from the Johns Hopkins University with a bachelor's degree in engineering. He condensed his studies during World War II so he could graduate before enlisting in the Navy. He also earned a certificate in industrial supervision and management from Hopkins.
In the Navy, Mr. Awalt served aboard LSM-373, ferrying equipment and supplies to various war zones.
After leaving the service, Mr. Awalt worked for BGE as an engineer for nearly 40 years. He also taught in the engineering school at Hopkins for more than 20 years.
Mr. Awalt met his future wife, Jane Kriete, at a Hopkins fraternity party. She was dancing with someone else, and he cut in.
"He had the largest deep-blue eyes you have ever seen on anybody, and I almost melted," Mrs. Awalt said. "My knees almost collapsed."
The couple celebrated their 60th anniversary in June.
With the encouragement of his wife, Mr. Awalt became interested in genealogy after he retired. The couple volunteered for many years at Baltimore County's Historical Society, helping people research their family roots.
"He was really good at going through the files and ferreting information for them," Mrs. Awalt said. "It gave him a great deal of satisfaction, and he knew what it meant to me."
The couple traveled to Germany to investigate Mr. Awalt's family tree, tracing his ancestors to the 1600s.
Mr. Awalt also enjoyed woodworking. When the couple built a house in Timonium, he spent hours buffing the wood fireplace wall by hand.
"He must have rubbed that at least 12 times to get a natural glow," his wife said. "It was a very warm, inviting color."
To honor her husband's appreciation for fine wood, Mrs. Awalt ordered his casket from Trappist monks, who make them by hand.
"Of course they pray as they're making them," she said. "We thought it would be so fitting that it would be the natural wood he really enjoyed."
The funeral will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow at Oak Crest Village chapel, 8800 Walther Blvd., Parkville.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Awalt is survived by a daughter, Barbara Jane Awalt of Albuquerque, N.M.; a son, R. Donald Awalt of Cockeysville; three brothers, William J. Awalt of Potomac, James L. Awalt of Parkville and John E. Awalt of Atlanta; and a number of grandchildren and step-grandchildren.