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James B. Foss, civil engineer and avid golfer, dies

James B. Foss, a retired civil engineer whose specialty was designing and remodeling sewage treatment plants, died April 16 of renal failure at Brightview Assisted-Living in Bel Air. He was 89.

James Bernard Foss, who was born in Bridgeport, Ill., and raised there, was the son of James Alton Foss, an oil-field worker, and his wife, Ceile Foss, a homemaker.

He earned his degree in civil engineering in 1951 from the University of Illinois, then was commissioned a lieutenant in the Army Transportation Corps and served in Korea with its railroad unit.

After being discharged in 1953, he earned his professional engineering certification. In 1962, he and his wife, the former Barbara Belote, whom he married in 1952, moved to Bel Air, when he joined the engineering firm of Frederick Ward Associates.

He was a partner in Frederick Ward Associates and vice president of the firm’s engineering operations, and headed its landfill and sewage treatment design efforts in Harford and Cecil counties as well as on the Eastern Shore.

“Jim was instrumental in turning the firm into a full engineering company,” Tory Pierce, the firm’s current president, said in a statement. “His expertise was highly valued.”

Craig Ward, son of the founder, described Mr. Foss as the “consummate professional civil engineer and particularly when it came to public works projects.”

Mr. Foss arrived in Harford County at a time of tremendous growth as it transitioned from being primarily an agricultural community to a more suburban one.

“And because Jim knew so much about water and sewer, we were able to secure a lot of work from the county as it started making important and significant public works decision,” he said. “He was highly respected throughout the county.”

Mr. Foss helped in restoring the Stump Mill, also known as Rock Run Mill, into an operating mill. Built in 1800, and located on the west bank of the Susquehanna River, the mill, which is now part of Susquehanna State Park, can grind cornmeal.

He retired in 1982.

Mr. Foss, who was an avid golfer, was a charter member of the Maryland Golf and Country Club. He played courses in Ireland, Spain and Scotland, and considered playing the historic Old Course St. Andrews, which dates to the 15th century, a highlight of his golfing life.

Other interests of the longtime Bel Air resident were taking flying lessons, horseback riding, running, tennis and waterfowl hunting.

Services are private.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Foss is survived by two sons, Kevin D. Foss of Bel Air and Eric G. Foss of Baltimore; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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