Francis J. "Frank" Rosenthal Jr., a Black & Decker Corp. executive who also led the restoration effort of a Long Green Valley church, died Saturday at his Naples, Fla., home of complications from Parkinson's disease. He was 78.
"Frank is the classic American success story who starts at a low level and rises damn near to the top of the company," said R. Roby Bailey Jr., vice president of engineering technology for Stanley Black & Decker Inc. "He was good technically and managerially."
"He was one of the best people I've ever worked for. Black & Decker is like a family, and even though he was moving up in the company, he kept his contacts throughout the organization," said Mr. Bailey, who lives in Parkton and went to work for Black & Decker in 1979.
"In many ways, he was cut from the same mold as [company co-founder] Al Decker. He epitomized the small-company atmosphere," said Mr. Bailey.
The son of Francis J. Rosenthal Sr., an Esso Oil Co. worker, and Margaret M. Curran, a homemaker, Francis Joseph Rosenthal Jr. was born in Baltimore and lived in Lansdowne before moving with his family in 1950 to Essex.
He was a 1955 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington and in 1958 enlisted in the Maryland National Guard, where he attained the rank of sergeant.
He met and his future wife, Arlene J. Citroni, a Catholic High School student, on the long bus and streetcar ride from Essex to Irvington. They married in 1957.
While working full time and raising three children with his wife, he attended evening classes at the Johns Hopkins University and earned a bachelor's degree in 1970 in mechanical engineering. In 1977, he earned a master's degree in the Executive MBA Program at what is now Loyola University Maryland.
James B. O'Hara, a retired professor and Loyola University administrator, said he also got to know Mr. Rosenthal on their shared bus and streetcar ride from Essex to Mount St. Joseph, which he said took an hour and a half.
"I was a year ahead of him," said Mr. O'Hara. "I got see him again years later when he entered Loyola's MBA program. He was a shy, diffident and quiet guy, and a superior student. Everyone liked Frank. He was even-tempered and thought things through at a deep level.
"He was the first student to complete the program with A's in every course — and only a few have done it since," said Mr. O'Hara.
Mr. Rosenthal began his three-decade career at Black & Decker as a draftsman in 1964. He was selected to join a special team whose mission was to create detailed drawings for the moon drill that was used in the Apollo lunar landings.
Mr. Rosenthal later led a team that designed a motor for a major line of Black & Decker power tools that was used for more than 25 years.
"It changed the business, and he played an instrumental role in making it happen," said Mr. Bailey.
He served as vice president of engineering, vice president of manufacturing in the company's Industrial Construction Division, and vice president and general manager of the consumer power tools division. He was an executive vice president and corporate officer at the time of his 1994 retirement, and was cited as inventor or co-inventor on 12 U.S. patents.
"His retirement party was the best I've ever attended. People came from all over the organization to attend it," said Mr. Bailey.
Mr. Rosenthal was a longtime communicant of St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Long Green Valley, where he served on the parish council and was its president. He was instrumental in the planning and restoration of the historic church building on the property, now used as the parish chapel.
Mr. Rosenthal served on the boards of the old Hannah More School in Reisterstown and Villa Julie College, now Stevenson University.
He also served on the engineering advisory board at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and was past president of the Loyola College XMBA Alumni Association. In 1985, he received the college's Carroll Medal, which honors alumni for work on the institution's behalf.
From 1965 to 1976, Mr. Rosenthal lived in Fork and later moved to Baldwin. Subsequently, he lived in Abingdon and in 1999 moved to Naples. Since 2013, he and his wife have split the year between their home in Naples and Oak Crest Village in Parkville.
In Naples, he was a member of the Knights of Columbus. He also served on the board of St. Ann Catholic School and on the Diocesan School Board.
His hobbies included maintaining a coin collection that was started by his grandfather. He enjoyed home improvement projects. He was a member of the Hillendale Country Club, where he played golf.
He and his wife had been season subscribers to the old Morris A. Mechanic Theatre. In retirement, the couple owned a powerboat and enjoyed cruising and exploring the canals of Naples. They also liked traveling to Europe and taking cruises.
A Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Rosenthal will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, 13305 Long Green Pike, Hydes.
In addition to his wife of 58 years, he is survived by two sons, Francis J. Rosenthal III of Reisterstown and Michael G. Rosenthal of Charlotte, N.C.; a daughter, Gina Rosenthal Stearns of Naples, Fla.; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.