- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

J. Donald Rauth, 87, retired executive

J. Donald Rauth, retired chairman and chief executive officer of the Martin Marietta Corp., died of a heart attack Dec. 28 at the Washington Hospital Center. He was 87.

Born in Pitman, N.J., Mr. Rauth earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Drexel Institute of Technology (now Drexel University) in Philadelphia, which later awarded him an honorary doctoral degree and established a chair in his name in its business management school.

Mr. Rauth joined the Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, Md., in 1940 and spent his entire 43-year career with Martin — a pioneer in aircraft manufacturing — and its successor companies.

He became chief executive officer of Martin Marietta — an aerospace and industrial material conglomerate that formed from a 1961 merger between Martin and the American-Marietta Corp. — in 1973, and retired in 1983.

Mr. Rauth held many positions at Martin, including chief project engineer, chairman and chief executive officer. He was the company’s chairman of the board during its historic and successful fight for survival in 1982 against a hostile takeover attempt by the Bendix Corp.

His career included the development of several technological firsts. He held a patent on the electrical system for the Gorgon IV missile, an experimental subsonic ramjet that, in 1946, was one of the earliest proof-of-principle missile systems.

As the company’s head of nuclear development, Mr. Rauth oversaw the design, manufacture and installation of the world’s first portable nuclear-power system, a 1,500-kilowatt plant that became the primary power supply for the Navy-operated scientific exploration station at McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, in 1961.

The first nuclear-power device launched into space — the SNAP 3A — also was developed under his direction in 1961.

A longtime resident of Kenwood, Md., Mr. Rauth was an avid outdoorsman, golfer and member of the Chevy Chase Club and the Burning Tree Club.

He also served on several corporate and private boards, including boards of the Brunswick Corp., Black & Decker, Eaton and the American Security Bank.

He was a member of the Conquistadores del Cielo, the Alfalfa Club and the Knights of Malta. He and his wife spent their winters at John’s Island in Vero Beach, Fla.

Mr. Rauth is survived by his wife of 62 years, Catherine Agnes Burns of Chevy Chase, Md.; a son, John Donald Rauth Jr. of the District; a daughter, Kathryn Rauth Rizik of the District; a sister, Nancy Virginia Smith of Fort Mill, S.C.; and three grandchildren.

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