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Donald J. Borneman Sr., railroader

Donald J. Borneman Sr., railroader
Donald J. Borneman Sr., of Timonium, was a retired Amtrak dispatcher who enjoyed boating. (Baltimore Sun)

Donald J. Borneman Sr., a retired Amtrak dispatcher who enjoyed boating, died Saturday at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson of complications from a stroke. He was 86.

Donald Jefferson Borneman Sr. was born in Baltimore and raised by his grandparents, Jefferson Davis Roten and Anna Roten, in the city's Pimlico neighborhood and in New Freedom, Pa.

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He attended New Freedom High School and enlisted in the Navy in June 1945, where he earned a General Educational Development certificate.

He served two tours of duty — in the waning days of World War II and during the Korean War — before being discharged in 1954 with the rank of boilerman second class.

Mr. Borneman's grandfather was a longtime Pennsylvania Railroad locomotive engineer and helped him begin a railroading career on the Pennsy in 1949 between tours in the Navy. He took a job as a block operator in the B&P Tower at Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore.

Mr. Borneman rose to dispatcher, overseeing sections of the busy Northeast corridor. He worked for successor railroads Penn-Central and Amtrak before retiring in 1988.

"He spent his entire career at Penn Station," said a son, Donald J. Borneman Jr., who lives in Columbia. Mr. Borneman loved talking about his railroad career, his son said, but was not someone who collected memorabilia. "At Christmas, he enjoyed setting up Lionel trains" for his children, his son said.

His father's favorite engine was the Pennsy's GG-1 electric locomotive, Mr. Borneman said. "He saw thousands of them as they passed through Penn Station during his time there," he said.

A resident of Timonium since 1951, Mr. Borneman enjoyed fishing, crabbing, and taking family and friends on cruises across the Chesapeake Bay aboard the Ms. B III, his 32-foot cabin cruiser.

Mr. Borneman was a member of Timonium United Methodist Church.

Plans for a memorial service are incomplete.

In addition to his son, Mr. Borneman is survived by his wife of 64 years, the former Phyllis Reymeyer; another son, Robert Roten Borneman of Westminster; and two grandsons.

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