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Robert Jantzen Dies

Robert Jantzen in 1985

Robert Jantzen in 1985

Robert J. Jantzen died on September 30, 2002 of cancer. He was 68.

Widely known in the dredging industry as a dredge engineer and builder, Mr. Jantzen designed seven dredges and modified more than 50 since starting Jantzen Engineering Co., Inc. in 1966. Among his designs are the clamshell dredge Virginian, owned by Norfolk Dredging Company, the Jim Bean, (now the Carolina, owned by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Company), and the cutterhead dredge Sir Walter Raleigh (now the Arizona, owned by Great Lakes Dredge & Dock.)

Among the other dredges he designed are the 3000-cubic-yard hopper dredge Ile au Coudre and 1500-cubic-yard hopper dredge Lockporte, and two all-electric 16-inch cutterhead dredges for Titanium Enterprises in Florida.

In the late 1970’s he designed a ladder pump installation for Potashnick Construction Company’s dredge Hydro Pacific, which is now the Florida, belonging to Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company. The installation included a modification of the ladder to accommodate an electric drive system, Falk gear box and Mobile Pulley pump, which has since been replaced with a GIW pump. The installation is still operating, and the Jantzen Engineering Company drawings of the ladder and pump installation are on file in the company’s Long Beach, California office, said Jim McNally of Great Lakes.

Mr. Jantzen was one of a handful of independent dredge engineers in the United States who brought all the elements of dredge design together into the construction stage, said longtime colleague Francis Ducote.

“You see Jantzen Engineering drawings, along with drawings from only several other independent engineers,” said Ducote.

Mr. Jantzen developed a production and density meter based on displacement of the discharge pipe, and designed the first installation of a ladder pump in the United States – on the Buster Bean in 1968.

A secondary business in power transmission for a variety of industries sustained the company during slow times, but dredging was Mr. Jantzen’s first love. He specialized in custom design and building, installing new equipment and redesigning systems.

He provided parts and engineering advice on an ongoing basis to a long list of dredging companies. Calls for equipment and advice continue to come in, said Alma Fischbach, 80, who has worked with Jantzen Engineering for 32 years, and who is continuing to run the company.

Mr. Jantzen received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1957, and spent six months as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, working on construction projects at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Taking advantage of a post-Korean War reduction in force, he left the army in 1958 and joined Ellicott Machine Corp., reaching the position of chief engineer before leaving in 1966 to start his own company.

Mrs. Fischbach said that there continues to be an outpouring of letters, faxes, phone calls and visits from customers and friends. She contacted more than 200 people in the week following Mr. Jantzen’s death, but calls continue to come in from people who had not heard the news, and she regrets that she was not able to contact everyone.

The funeral was held on October 4 at St. Ursula’s Church, Parkville, Maryland, with burial in Parkwood Cemetery. Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral and also the burial, in a seemingly endless line of cars, said Mrs. Fischbach.

Mr. Jantzen is survived by his wife Jo Ann, two stepdaughters, two brothers and many nieces and nephews.

Memorial donations can be made to Ralph H. Hruban, M.D., c/o The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Department of Pathology, Room 2242, The Weinberg Building, 401 N. Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21231-2410.

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