On March 26, 2005, Joseph O. Danko, Jr., Chairman of a family-owned foundry, pattern, and machine shop business started by his father in 1920, died after a short battle with cancer at his Baltimore home in Homeland. He was 78.
Mr. Danko was a gracious and gifted engineer who operated Danko Arlington, Inc., which is located in Northwest Baltimore City and specializes in aluminum sand castings for high quality military, aerospace, and commercial applications. Company projects included a scaled test model of Hughes Corporation’s Glomar Explorer which was disguised as a mining vessel and was designed to retrieve a sunken Russian Submarine; and many parts used in the defense of our country during wartime.
During his lifetime, Mr. Danko produced thousands of mechanical designs for parts made by his foundry for customer applications as well as for his own business ventures. Mr. Danko was known for freely sharing his casting and engineering knowledge with other local companies, including Westinghouse, Lockheed Martin, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and the US Navy.
Mr. Danko’s delight was to make a concept a reality. “My father had a passion for drafting and mechanical design and had the unique ability to produce what he envisioned. An engineer who has a foundry and machine shop is like a child in a candy store,” says his son John D. Danko of Glenelg, MD who is currently running the family business.
Mr. Danko grew up in Forrest Park and was a 1944 graduate of the “A” Course at the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. With WWII coming to an end, he joined the Navy and enrolled in the V12 program at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Emmitsburg, but never saw combat. After the war, he transferred to the University of Pennsylvania, and then ultimately to Cornell University, where he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1948.
After receiving his professional engineering license from Maryland and Ohio, he worked for his father, Joseph O. Danko, Sr., as Chief Engineer at the foundry business which was then known as the Arlington Bronze and Aluminum Corporation.
In addition to his duties at the foundry, he became Chief Engineer and co-owner of the Wabash Manufacturing Company which machined castings made at the foundry. In 1956, Wabash purchased the assets of the Greenwood Engineering Company, a local manufacturer of corrugated box machinery, which was later sold in 1959 to the Langston Company of Camden, NJ. During his association with Greenwood, Mr. Danko received four (4) US patents for his unique machinery designs for box making.
In 1960, Mr. Danko reorganized his business into Danko Arlington, Inc. which was comprised of a pattern, foundry, and machine division. A product line of photogrammetric instruments was added to the family business in 1969 when Danko Arlington purchased the assets of the Kelsh Instrument Company – a Baltimore firm which designed and manufactured aerial cameras and stereo plotters for the map making industry. With the advent of satellite and computer technology, the mechanical equipment used to draw and plot contour maps became obsolete in 1980, and Mr. Danko returned his focus on the jobbing foundry business.
Though he officially retired in 1996, Mr. Danko was never far from his company and was working up to the time of his illness. “My father loved his faith, family, and work. He was a great leader by example,” said his eldest son, Paul J. Danko.
Mr. Danko was a devout Roman Catholic and was a charter parishioner at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Homeland where he and his wife of forty five years, Marie, settled and raised their three children. At the Cathedral, Mr. Danko served as Lector and a member of the Maintenance Committee for over forty years.
He was recently recognized by the Cathedral Parish for his volunteer service and numerous contributions to the church. In 1970, he designed a new main altar for the church so that the priests could face the congregation in accordance with the new teachings of Vatican II. His design was a beautiful mahogany altar and matching candle sticks which harmonized with the cathedral’s nave. The altar, which was carved by his father Joseph O. Danko, Sr., was donated by the Danko Family and is still in use today. Other gifts to the cathedral included cast bronze poor boxes, hand railings, and a support for the Cardinal Sheehan’s ceremonial hat which hangs in the church over his crypt tomb.
In 2000, Mr. Danko designed and cast a bronze processional metropolitan cross and matching bishop’s crosier to commemorate the millennium of the Catholic Church. The gifts were presented to Cardinal Keeler and the Archdiocese of Baltimore and are used at the Basilica of the Assumption.
Mr. Danko loved to read in his spare time, particularly about the military history of WWII. His love of the Navy, the sea, and the Chesapeake Bay inspired him to design and build his own wooden Lightening Class sail boat named the Shillelagh. After he sold the boat, he remodeled his home’s garage into a family room with a ship’s cabin theme which included an oval bulkhead door and custom bronze port holes.
In 1990, he was invested in the Order of Malta – a Roman Catholic organization that cares for the sick and the poor. He was also very active in Our Father’s Divine Work – a Catholic religious order and prayer group. Other memberships included Young Presidents Organization (YPO), Chesapeake Presidents Organization (CPO), Volunteers for Medical Engineering, and the American Foundry Society.
In addition to his wife, two sons and daughter, Claire Danko Krause of Ellicott City, he is survived by seven grand children.