Richard Froehlinger, rivers and harbors specialist, dies

Richard A. Froehlinger Jr., a retired waters and harbor construction specialist who was a World War II veteran, died of complications of an infection Dec. 8 at his daughter’s Towson home. He was 95.

Born in Baltimore and raised on St. Albans Way, he was the son of Richard A. Froehlinger, president of the Arundel Corp., and his wife, Elizabeth Waldhauser. He was a nephew of Frank Furst, a Democratic Party leader who founded the family maritime construction and building materials firm.

He attended Mount Washington Country School for Boys and was a 1941 graduate of Calvert Hall College High School. He was a pre-law student at the University of Baltimore when he joined the Army during World War II. He was trained in the use of firearms and became a specialist in weapons repairs and maintenance. Family members said he worked on pistols and other arms and small-caliber anti-aircraft guns.

“He could take a gun apart in the dark,” said his wife, the former Vira Castoro.

He was assigned to the Third Army in Europe and served in England, Belgium, France and Germany. He left military service as a technician fourth class.

His son, Richard A. Froehlinger III, said Mr. Froehlinger later declined to speak about his war experience but retained his extensive knowledge of armament.

He attended Syracuse University and what is now Loyola University Maryland and became a salesman for DelMonte foods.

He had met his future wife when in high school. She has was at his home, with his sister, for a lunch between their classes at Notre Dame Preparatory School.

“We didn’t connect much at that time,” his wife said. “But after the war we went on a double date.”

They were married in 1949. Their wedding reception, held at the Hotel Belvedere’s ballroom, included numerous political figures as guests.

Mr. Froehlinger later joined his father at the Arundel Corp. and headed its public relations division. He handled work for the firm, which was involved with the construction of the first Chesapeake Bay Bridge, among other jobs.

He later became executive secretary for the Rivers and Harbors Congress and worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and the Navy Bureau of Yards and Docks on national rivers and harbors projects.

As a nephew of Maryland Democratic Party chair Frank Furst, he was invited to Washington, D.C., events. He once had lunch with Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and met House Speaker Sam Rayburn, who gave him an autographed gavel.

Mr. Froehlinger and his wife were guests at the inaugurations and balls of Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson.

President Johnson made Mr. Froehlinger and his wife honorary Texans. They were also greeted by Texas Gov. John Connally.

“Dick was given gold cuff links with the Texas seal,” said his wife. “After Johnson left office, we met Richard Nixon, but his troubles made him not as social.”

After commuting to Washington, D.C., for nearly 30 years, Mr. Froehling retired and became active with the Baltimore City Chamber of Commerce and worked to boost business here.

He and a partner, James I. Brown, began buying and renovating derelict homes in the Ridgely’s Delight section of Southwest Baltimore, near what would become Oriole Park at Camden Yard.

Mr. Froehling designed the reconstruction of the homes and Mr. Brown was the hands-on contractor.

“My father was a man who was there to provide a shoulder to cry on, food to share, hands to build, and arms to enfold you,” said his son. “He would share stories and accompany them with a prayer for you and yours. He never lost his charm, his sense of humor, or his desire to help others.”

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, Ware Avenue in Towson.

In addition to his wife of nearly 70 years, a State of Maryland consultant for children’s mental health, and his son, survivors include five daughters, Mary Elizabeth Powell and Janet Froehlinger Willey also of Towson, Christina Froehlinger Thomas of Cockeysville, Maria Teresa Webb of Towson and Judith Marie Schlichter of Glyndon; 14 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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