He was born Sept. 1, 1926, in Towns County, Ga., and graduated as valedictorian from Towns County High School in Hiawassee, Ga., in 1944.
In February 1945, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was trained as a flight engineer. During World War II, he served in France, Egypt, and India as a member of the Air Transport Command; and, because his superiors found him to be responsible, trustworthy, and “good with numbers,” he was placed in charge of the payroll at one of his bases. He was discharged in August 1946.
After the war, he attended Tennessee Polytechnic Institute (Tennessee Tech) and received a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. During his engineering career, he was employed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, Bowater Paper Inc., Hensley-Schmidt Inc., and March Adams and Associates Inc. He was involved in projects in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand and was the lead structural engineer for T.C. Thompson Children’s Hospital at Erlanger. Also, he did a significant amount of the structural design on such Chattanooga landmarks as the McKenzie Arena, downtown TVA office buildings, and the IMAX Theater. He formally retired from March Adams in 1993; however, for several years he continued to work part time on numerous small projects. He became a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers in 1970 and a lifetime member in 1996.
He was a longtime member of the International Lions Club and joined the Cleveland Lions Club in June 1975. He held several key positions in the organization, including president and treasurer, and was instrumental in securing funding partnership with United Way for the Club’s Save Sight program.
He has been a member of the First Baptist Church in Cleveland since 1957 and served many years as a deacon and member of the counting committee.
His hobbies included genealogy and local history, and he was very fond of the poetry of Robert Service and Rudyard Kipling, and listening to the “The Sons of the Pioneers.”
He was preceded in death by his parents: George Hines and Ollie Bryson Townsend; a brother, Ray Townsend; preceding him in death in 1995 was his first wife of 47 years, Evelyn Hughes Townsend; and, in 2011, a beloved sister-in-law, Peggy Williams Hughes.
Survivors include his sister, Roberta Townsend Hooper of Young Harris, Ga.; wife: Dortha Johnson (Tittsworth) Townsend; son, Robert E. Townsend and his wife, Lorraine, of Odenton, Md.; daughter, Dr. Lynette Townsend Purdue of Rockville, Md.; stepdaughter: Dr. Sarah Kim Kane and her husband, Michael, of Knoxville; granddaughter, Martha Marie Townsend and her husband, Ikaika Hussey; and two great-grandchildren: Aholoa and Wehena, all of Honolulu, Hawaii; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The funeral will be conducted at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, in the chapel of Ralph Buckner Funeral Home with the Revs. Jim Gibson and Tom Moncrief officiating. A graveside service will follow in Sunset Memorial Gardens.
The family will receive friends Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Lions Club Save Sight Program, 4681 N. Lee Highway, Cleveland TN 37312, or to the Cleveland Public Library, 795 Church St. N.E, Cleveland TN 37311, in honor of his late wife, Evelyn, who was a librarian for many years.
We invite you to send a message of condolence and view the Townsend family guestbook at www.ralphbuckner.com.