William C. Tomlinson, a career educator who spent nearly 50 years teaching and working in administration, died of heart failure Tuesday at Atlantic General Hospital in Berlin. The former Upper Marlboro resident was 81.
Mr. Tomlinson was born in Baltimore and raised in Sykesville, where he graduated from school in 1943.
In 1944, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces and served as a radio operator. He was commissioned as an officer in the Air Force in 1950 and was on active duty during the Korean War.
"Much of his work was classified, and he never talked about it," said his wife of 37 years, the former June Heffner.
Mr. Tomlinson remained in the Air Force Reserves for 19 years. He retired in 1986 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Mr. Tomlinson earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and chemistry from Washington College in 1950, and a master's in education from the University of Maryland in 1967.
He began his teaching career at Sykesville Hill School in 1950, and subsequently held teaching positions at Mount Airy High School and Westminster High School until being appointed assistant principal at Liberty Junior High School in 1956.
From 1958 to 1963, he was vice principal of Linganore High School in Frederick, until being named principal of Stephen Decatur High School in Berlin.
Mr. Tomlinson was registrar and director of admissions and records at Montgomery College from 1967 until his retirement in 1983.
From 1983 until 2002, he was a part-time instructor in the mathematics department at Prince George's Community College.
Mr. Tomlinson was an active Lions Club member for more than 30 years and a longtime volunteer at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham.
A resident of Tavares, Fla., since 2003, Mr. Tomlinson enjoyed building model airplanes and cars. He was also an avid reader and opera buff.
Plans for services were incomplete.
Also surviving are two sisters, Evelyn A. Tomlinson of Nashville and Patricia Gosnell of Stillwater, Okla.