Walter A. Truax, a retired United Airlines manager and longtime resident of Severna Park, died of respiratory failure Friday. He was 78.
He was a member of the Olde Severna Park Improvement Association for more than four decades and served on the organization's board for many years, including three years as president, according to his family. In 1980, his friends and neighbors nominated him for Man of the Year, an award he received at the annual Greater Severna Park Community Awards Ceremony.
Mr. Truax was born in Utica, N.Y., and moved to Maryland in 1957 after he was discharged from the Air Force. He served in the military from 1948 to 1955, and at the start of the Korean War was a cryptographer at Strategic Air Command headquarters in Omaha, Neb.
He met Abbie Reh in Omaha, and they were married in July 1951. Shortly after their nuptials, Mr. Truax left for England, where he was assigned to the RAF Station Manston in Kent. His wife joined him a few months later and the couple stayed in England for about three years, according to the family.
Not long after his discharge from the military, Mr. Truax and his wife moved to Maryland and he began work at what was then Friendship Airport, now Baltimore-Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport, as an employee for United Airlines.
During his three decades as an assistant station manager with United, Mr. Truax witnessed many changes in the airline industry, his family said. When he started with United in the late 1950s, the company had a small fleet of piston engine propeller planes. By the time he retired in 1988, the company had become one of the largest carriers in the world, with a fleet of dozens of jets and a staff of thousands.
A highlight of his career was his involvement in the transport of members of the U.S. Naval Academy football team, as well as 4,000 midshipmen, from Maryland to California in 1983 for the annual Army-Navy game, held that year in Pasadena. The trip required 17 wide-body jet aircraft.
Mr. Truax enjoyed sailing on the Chesapeake Bay and was co-founder of the Annapolis Sailing Society, members of which were mostly employees or former employees of United Airlines, according to his family. He particularly enjoyed sailing Morgan yachts to the Caribbean.
He was also a member of the American Legion, Knights of Columbus and Glen Burnie Jaycees.
Visitation will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at the Barranco and Sons Funeral Home, 495 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.
A funeral Mass will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, 689 Ritchie Highway, Severna Park.
Burial will be private.
Other survivors include a son, Walter "Buddy" Truax III of McKinney, Texas; three daughters, Mary Ellen Ruddick of Fort Meyers Beach, Fla., Linda L. Truax of Severna Park and Ann Barry Vasquez of Gambrills; a brother, Charles Barry Truax of Ruxton; and two grandchildren.