Milton Henry Leubecker, a retired general manager of the old Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Key Highway Shipyard at the base of Federal Hill, died of Alzheimer's disease complications Monday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Timonium resident was 77.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Fullerton, he was a 1947 Kenwood High School graduate. He then joined the steel firm's Key Highway ship-repair yard as a machinist apprentice. He enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve's 11th Engineer Battalion and served during the Korean War.
After his release from active duty, he returned to Key Highway and at night earned his Bachelor of Science degree at the John Hopkins University.
He went on to hold management positions in Bethlehem Steel's shipyards in Hingham, Mass., and Beaumont, Texas. He became general manager of the Key Highway Shipyard and held that position until Beth Steel sold the property in 1982.
"Milton was the last general manager at Key Highway. He was brokenhearted when the shipyard was sold, but he knew it had to happen," said former Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, who had been The Sun's maritime editor and later chairwoman of the Federal Maritime Commission. "He had an easygoing personality but was a firm administrator. His people were very fond of him. I thought he was a great person."
In a 1988 Evening Sun article, Mr. Leubecker recalled that his employees at the Key Highway yard once repaired 600 ships a year. When it closed, it was down to 170 ship repairs.
"There were fewer ships calling on Baltimore," he told a reporter. "The container ships are faster in and out of port. The other restriction was we didn't have a deep enough channel on the Northwest branch of the Patapsco River ... and I can tell you quite frankly we had high labor costs and very restrictive work rules."
During his tenure at Key Highway, Mr. Leubecker supervised a restoration of the Constellation's wooden hull.
After his company sold the Key Highway property, now developed as the residential community HarborView, he managed a Bethlehem-owned shipyard in Singapore for five years. Among other assignments, he managed the building of off-shore oil exploration platforms and headed construction of a floating hotel at Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
In the mid-1980s, he was named vice chairman of BCI Contractors on South Central Avenue.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Lassahn Funeral Home, 7401 Belair Road.
Survivors include a son, David Leubecker of Atlanta; a daughter, Debra Crawford of Baltimore; a brother, Vernon Leubecker of Baltimore; a sister, Lillian Winkler of Fullerton; and three grandchildren. His marriage ended in divorce.