Obituary: Jack Spangler, 62, Senior Instrument Designer
in Whiting School
William Jack Spangler
Photo by Courtesy of Delong Zuo
When William Jack Spangler died at The Johns Hopkins
Hospital on Sept. 16, he was 62 years
old and had been affiliated with Johns Hopkins for 45
years. He began at the university in a
work/study position during his senior year of high school
and was hired by the
Department of Physics,
full-time, immediately upon his graduation in 1963. In
1995, he transferred to the Department of Civil
Engineering and retired from his position there, as a
senior instrument designer, last month. He
received the Whiting School of Engineering's Outstanding
Staff Service Award in 2002 and was a
dedicated employee, committed to Johns Hopkins' mission.
"Jack was truly gifted," said Nick Jones, dean of the
Whiting School. "He pushed the envelope
in his every endeavor."
The innovative systems for measurement and control
that Spangler built had applications that
included particle detectors for high-energy physics
experiments and the measurement of field
vibrations of large cable-supported bridges.
Jones, a civil engineer, worked with Spangler on
numerous bridge-related research projects
over the course of more than a dozen years.
"He had a tremendous gift for understanding
electromechanical systems and would diagnose and
repair complex mission-critical systems in a calm,
unflappable manner," Jones said. "In situations when
I felt like I was ready to jump off the bridge in
frustration, Jack would quickly sum up the situation,
restrain me with one hand and reach for his tools with the
According to his former supervisor, Emeritus Professor
Aihud Pevsner from the Krieger
School's Department of Physics and Astronomy, "Jack could
reassemble a television set in the time it
took me to cough."
Always working in the background, Spangler had a
commitment to delivering the highest quality
product that strongly influenced the careers and lives of
many Johns Hopkins faculty and students,
Spangler is survived by his wife, Carol; son, Jack
Jr., and daughter-in-law, Liz; and two
grandchildren, Cole and Julianna.
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