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Edward F. 'Ned' Gehret Jr., Johns Hopkins University computer expert, dies

Edward F. 'Ned' Gehret Jr., Johns Hopkins University computer expert, dies
Edward F. 'Ned' Gehret Jr. was a pioneer with computer systems at Johns Hopkins, and enjoyed sports cars and flying his Cessna aircraft. (Handout)

Edward F. “Ned” Gehret Jr. of Sparks, a former member of the administrative computing department at the Johns Hopkins University who enjoyed flying Cessnas, died at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center on July 19 from pneumonia.

The former Ruxton resident was 88.

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Edward Fayette Gehret Jr. was born in Jersey Shore, Pa., the son of Edward F. Gehret Sr., a manager of the Wilmington, Del., shops for E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. and his wife, Evelyn Lydia Young Gehret.

When he was a teenager, the family moved to Centerville, Del., and he graduated from Wilmington Friends School in 1948.

He attended Lehigh University, then enlisted in the Army in 1951 and was stationed in Yakima, Wash. He was a radar operator on an anti-aircraft gun.

After being discharged in 1954, Mr. Gehret continued his education at the University of Delaware and obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He was a member of Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society.

While at the university he met Judith Colburn. They married in 1956.

Mr. Gehret worked for DuPont from 1956 to 1958, then joined the department of radiological science at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Family members said he was a member of a team, headed by Dr. Russell Morgan, that researched the quantity of X-ray “scatter” that patients received from diagnostic X-rays.

“The project was notable for one of the early uses of a computer as a data acquisition system,” wrote his son, Robert S. Gehret of Hampstead, in a biographical profile of his father. “He taught himself computer programming and was always finding uses for the computer that would help the university.”

Because the project used a mainframe computer, other departments that required data processing became regular users, his son wrote.

“He would freely offer his help to these other users and often contributed to their success,” his son wrote.

Mr. Gehret played a key role in establishing one of the early data networks at Hopkins that linked computers that used IBM 1401 systems, some located more than 30 miles away, with other university facilities.

In 1976, he relocated to the Homewood campus and joined the administrative computing department. He was instrumental in the acquisition and implementation of a student record database.

Barbara Schaffer Emorine of New Marketwas working in data management at Hopkins when she met Mr. Gehret in 1986. She called him “a consummate gentleman, and a really wonderful person to work with.”

“He was always a person I could work with even though we might have different opinions on how to approach or fix a problem,” said Ms. Emorine, who is now senior director of enrollment management at the Johns Hopkins School of Education. “We would reach a consensus and work together as a team. He did a lot of great things.”

Ms. Emorine said that during the four years they worked together, they became great friends.

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“We used to go out to lunch together until I moved to Canada in 2008. And when I moved back to Baltimore, we started going out to lunch again,” she said. “Even when I was away, we maintained our friendship.”

Mr. Gehret retired in 1990.

A fan of sports cars, he owned and drove an Austin Healey 3000 in the early 1960s, and followed that by purchasing a Jaguar XK-E.

He then decided to fly. He obtained a pilot’s license and later obtained his instrument and commercial pilot ratings.

With a friend, George Hobday, he co-owned a Cessna 172 Skyhawk — a four-seat, single-engine plane. They later purchased a Cessna 177RG Cardinal.

They enjoyed flying to Rehoboth Beach, Del., and to destinations in Florida and Massachusetts. They had journeyed as far west as Denver. Mr. Gehret stopped flying about a decade ago, family members said.

He also enjoyed playing golf with Gary Marlowe, a PGA golfer and a friend.

In 2000 he and his wife, who was a computer programmer, moved to a condominium at Loveton Farms in Sparks. She died in 2009. In recent years, Mr. Gehret lived with his daughter in Sparks.

A visitation was held Tuesday at Lemmon Funeral Home in Timonium.

In addition to his son, Mr. Gehret is survived by two daughters, Carolyn A. Gehret of Sparks and Catherine E. Gehret McCaslin of Seattle; six grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Another daughter, Elizabeth G. “Betsy” Starling, died in 2000.

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