Barranco Obituary: Robert Eugene Gustafson
- Deceased's name: Robert Eugene Gustafson
- Age: 86
- Date: April 19, 2012
- Hometown: Severna Park, MD
On April 19, 2012 Robert Eugene Gustafson, 86, a longtime resident of Severna Park, died peacefully of aortic stenosis with his wife by his side.
Born August 1, 1925 to the former Elsie Ariess and Harold Gustafson he lived in Chicago until age six when his mother became ill and died. He was moved to a small farm in northern Wisconsin where he lived through the Great Depression.
The family was of modest means and had a hard life on the farm. In 1944 he enlisted in the army and was assigned to the 1637th Combat Engineers. Sgt. Gustafson served with the unit in France and Germany where they assisted concentration camp prisoners.
Following VE the unit was sent to the Philippines to wait for the American invasion of Japan. While in the Philippines the unit helped rebuild Clark Field. Following WWII Robert received his mechanical engineering degree from Northwestern University. In 1953 he married Eva Mae Fogle of Baltimore and the couple moved to Severna Park.
He worked his entire career at the US Naval Ship Research and Development Center in Annapolis, later named David Taylor Research Center, where he developed expertise in ball bearing systems and received a patent for a system to prevent bearing failures.
He pioneered a unique method of repairing large submarine propulsion machinery without costly removal from the submarine. He enjoyed his work, especially training ships’ crews, improving naval machinery, and working on new technology including hydrofoils. Robert’s interests included foreign travel, sailing, and steam machinery - especially ships and locomotives.
He was keenly interested in the history and development of steam propulsion and served on a team that researched and documented the construction and innovations of Civil War ironclad USS Monitor. During retirement he volunteered with Project Liberty Ship, helping restore the JOHN W. BROWN and in conjunction with the Baltimore Museum of Industry, the tug boat BALTIMORE.
He was a loving husband and father and is survived by his wife Eva Mae, sister Helen Bagstad of Henderson NV, daughter Karen Royer (Robert) of Severna Park, sons Kirk (Heidi) of Frederick, MD and Matthew (Susan) of Severna Park, and seven grand children.
A family interment will be held at the Maryland Veterans Cemetery in Crownsville. Memorial contributions can be made to Project Liberty Ship, P.O. Box 25846 Highlandtown Station, Baltimore, MD 21244 or the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, 6 Herndon Ave., Annapolis, MD 21403. Online condolences may be made at www.barrancofuneralhome.com