Maurice Philborn “Bud” Johnson, a retired Westinghouse electrical engineer who worked in the early years of Baltimore television broadcasting, died in his sleep April 8 at his Severna Park home. He was 97, and a death certificate listed his cause of death as weight loss.
Born in Jamestown, New York, he was the son of Fridolph Johnson, a mechanical engineer, and his wife, Nellie. He was a 1941 graduate of Jamestown High School and was an ice skater.
He enlisted in what was then called the Army Air Corps and served in the Southwest Pacific islands of New Guinea, Borneo, Morotai and the Philippines from 1942 to 1946. He worked on and repaired then-secret radar systems.
After his military discharge he received a degree in electrical engineering at Valparaiso Technical Insititute in Indiana. He earned a master’s degree in electrical engineering at the Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Johnson moved to Baltimore in 1948 during the infancy of commercial television as part of the crew that installed the old WAAM-TV, now WJZ-TV, on Television Hill. The station was part of the old DuMont Television Network. He worked there until 1956.
While there he met his future wife, Mary P. Manke, who worked in the payroll department.
“I was an opera lover and Bud, being an engineer, had a wonderful hi-fi set. We played records for hours,” his wife said. “We originally lived in Pikesville and Bud had a house built for us in Randallstown. In those early days of television and as a bachelor, he practically lived at the station."
Mr. Johnson then joined the Westinghouse Defense Center at what is now BWI Marshall Airport as a design engineer. He worked in communications and radar systems for nearly 30 years.
He joined the Professional Engineering Society of Maryland in 1967.
In 1979 he and his wife moved to Severna Park.
He retired in April 1985 and continued to do electronic design consulting, including on early drones for the military.
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He was also an enthusiastic traveler and led tours of about 25 people throughout Italy for Go Ahead Travel. His wife said he once set up an opera lovers trip that included a stop at the La Scala opera house in Milan and an outdoor performance at the Verona Arena.
He taught continuing education courses at Anne Arundel Community College on travel, the use and editing of camcorders, and photography, and he studied symphonic music, opera and theater at the school.
He took photographs in early 1997 for his wife’s arts stories in The Sun. They covered events at the Colonial Players in Annapolis, the Talent Machine and student productions at the community college.