Raymond J. Hiser Sr., a retired illustrator who was a volunteer aboard the Liberty ship S.S. John W. Brown, died Saturday at Greater Baltimore Medical Center of pneumonia. The Cockeysville resident was 89.
The son of Edward Hiser, an auto mechanic, and Mabel Hiser, a homemaker, Raymond Joseph Hiser was born in Baltimore and raised on Otter Point, Harford County, in a home overlooking the Bush River.
After graduating from St. Stephen's High School in Bradshaw, he enlisted in the Navy in 1944, and served in the Pacific Theater as a signalman aboard naval vessels.
Mr. Hiser worked in public relations and advertising for the old MacLea Lumber Co. on South Central Avenue near the harbor. He took a job in 1958 at AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley illustrating company catalogs.
"He loved boats, the sea and sailing. When he was a kid, he began sailing on the Bush River," said his wife of 65 years, the former Eleanor Dilworth.
Mr. Hiser became a docent aboard the John W. Brown and rose to become chief docent. He organized tours of the vessel, which is docked in Baltimore.
"He was a quiet and spirited docent who clearly explained the old merchant ship's record from World War II and its current mission as an operating Living History vessel. He was a fine seaman, patient with all," said Ernest F. Imhoff, a former Baltimore Sun editor who wrote "Good Shipmates: The Restoration of the Liberty Ship John W. Brown."
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Mr. Hiser stepped down in 2001 because of health issues.
He was a communicant of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Cockeysville, where he was choir and music director from 1957 to 1983.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Mr. Hiser at 11 a.m. Wednesday at his church, 100 Church Lane.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two sons, Raymond J. Hiser Jr. of Cockeysville and David J. Hiser of Hampstead; three daughters, Barbara A. Hiser of Cockeysville, Gail K. Weimer of Hanover, Pa., and Loretta F. Groseclose of North Augusta, S.C.; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.