R. Charles Dannettel Jr.

The Baltimore Sun

R. Charles Dannettel Jr., who worked for 22 years as the chief of engineering for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, died of pneumonia Thursday at Stella Maris Hospice. The White Hall resident was 79.

A Baltimore native who was raised in Roland Park, he was a 1946 graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He earned an engineering degree at the Johns Hopkins University in 1950.

Mr. Dannettel followed in the academic path of his father, who also graduated from Poly and earned an engineering degree from Johns Hopkins. Mr. Dannettel's father, who died in 1995, was an engineer for Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

Mr. Dannettel had a love for engineering and enjoyed the people he worked with in state government, said his wife of 28 years, the former Barbara Smith.

He worked from 1950 to 1969 at Babcock & Wilcox engineering firm in Washington, at Lamb Engineering from 1969 to 1972, and at Green Contracting from 1972 to 1976.

Mr. Dannettel was chief of engineering for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene from 1976 until his retirement in 1998. He oversaw state hospitals and the medical examiner's office, Mrs. Dannettel said.

"The medical examiner's office fascinated him. In today's world, with all the TV shows, it really brought back a lot of memories to him. He could say what was made for TV and how it really is," she said.

Mr. Dannettel was an avid wildfowl hunter. He also enjoyed fishing. Photography was a lifelong hobby, and he had a darkroom in his house to develop his work.

Mr. Dannettel was also a fan of lacrosse and football. He also played golf until a back injury forced him to quit.

"He really supported the Johns Hopkins lacrosse team," said Mrs. Dannettel. "We went to nearly every game, and in the last two or three years he watched the games on TV. We also went to high school games. When our boys played, we never missed any of their games in high school and college."

Mr. Dannettel enjoyed entertaining family at the home in White Hall that he called Century House.

He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity, Ducks Unlimited, the Mount Washington Club, the Johns Hopkins Club and St. James Episcopal Church in Parkton.

"He was truly a gentleman," said Mrs. Dannettel. "Other than when he was hunting or fishing or farming, he always was in a coat and tie. He was very much of a people person. When he went to the grocery store, the drugstore, the bank and the cleaners, everybody knew him and loved him."

A previous marriage to Helen Hart ended in divorce.

A memorial service will be held at noon today in the Cathedral Church of the Incarnation, 4 E. University Parkway.

In addition to his wife, survivors include three daughters, Elizabeth Anne Dannettel of Westminster, Nancy Katherine Delahanty of Avondale, Pa., and Mary Margaret Westlake of Westminster; three stepsons, Stephen B. Berquest of Bishopville, Timothy C. Berquest of Arnold and Benjamin B. Berquest of Sparks; a sister; Joan D. Buttner of Baltimore; and 14 grandchildren. He was predeceased by a son, R.C. Dannettel III.

james.drew@baltsun.com

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