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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 24, 2007 | Vol. 37 No. 4
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 other."

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, Jones said.

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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