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How the Bendix Radio Foundation Museum Project was Started

Background - Honeywell, after agreeing to a merger with AlliedSignal in July 1999, made plans to moved the Avionics headquarters to a new building in Redmond, Washington which would also house a museum display to present and preserve the Bendix legacy.  Equally important, Honeywell also initiated an avionics book and the authorship task was turned over to Bryan Wiggins.  During the summer of 1999 Wiggins contacted former Bendix employees and started assembling historical information and artifacts.  Jack Shagena was one many individuals called and was struck, that while the planned book would capture Bendix’ avionics history, the complete story of Bendix Radio still needed to be written down.

This prompted Jack Shagena to contact the Towson-based public affairs department of Raytheon who had acquired the former Bendix Radio business and facility in 1998.  While some interest was expressed on the part of Raytheon nothing came from the request to preserve Bendix historical materials outside of their facility.

A Bendix Radio Book - After receiving a copy of the very attractive Honeywell book, Pioneering Safer Skies, The Bendix Aviation Legacy, and giving some thought to the importance of preserving the Bendix legacy in Baltimore, Jack  Shagena contacted Jim Dalmas to discuss how a book about the division could be written.  Dalmas observed the most important aspect would be first collecting the historical documents and preserving them a physical repository suggesting the Baltimore Museum of Industry as a potential  candidate.  A few days later on September 15, 2000 Jack Shagena discussed this possibility with Nancy Perlman, Director, Research Center and Archivist, who enthusiastically embraced the concept. 

The Ad Hoc Committee - Dalmas and the Shagena conferred on assembling a group of dedicated individuals who would be willing to spearhead the preservation effort with Bill Mackey, Bob Stefan and Jerry Woodall along with several others being tentatively identified.  The three named  individuals graciously agreed to work on the project, and a late October meeting at the Museum was scheduled with Nancy Perlman.  The ad hoc committee met with Perlman who provided an overview of the Museum after which all agreed there appeared to be a good fit between the Museum’s mission and the Bendix Radio project.  With this encouragement the concept was presented to Stefan’s monthly meeting of retired engineers on November 2, 2000 and positive feedback was received.

The committee then met in mid-November with Bill Cole, Executive Director of the Museum, along with Nancy Perlman to gain further assurances of the Museum’s long term plans and establish a working relationship.  The Museum and the committee were both eager to move forward, and the meeting results were summarized in a letter from Jack Shagena to Cole on November 17, 2000 which noted, “Our committee looks forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with the museum.  Our current task is to initiate the collections process in earnest then assist Nancy Perlman in any way we can in archiving the materials.”

The Foundation - To guide the operations of the committee, Jack Shagena prepared a series of draft working documents which included: Articles Incorporation for the Bendix Radio Foundation,  Bylaws, Vision and Mission Statements, Indexing Categories, Committee Activities for Success  and Tentative Assignments,  and  Museum Working Relationship.  After some discussion it was the consensus of the committee to proceed informally without incorporating, but the group’s name, Vision and Mission Statements and tentative individual assignments were adopted.  Thus the organization’s name became the Bendix Radio Foundation with the overall vision of: Preserving and Presenting the History of Bendix in Baltimore.

Some Significant Progress - Since the fall of 2000 much progress has been made by the committee in achieving the Vision and Mission of the Foundation.  Some notable milestones are:

o November 2000 - Foundation logo drafted
o January 2001- Foundation brochure published
o March 2001 - 23 transfiles and 11 large framed displays received from Raytheon
o April 2001 - Eight boxes of material received from Redmond (Honeywell)
o April 2001 - Bendix Radio Foundation Web launched
o April 2001 - Over a dozen boxes of materials from retired employees received
o April 2001 - Mailing list compiled and E-Beam sent to 120 addresses
o May 2001 - History timeline of Bendix Radio started and contains over 200 entries

Members of the ad hoc committee continue to do whatever is necessary to accomplish the Foundation’s Vision and Mission, but each individual focus his efforts in specific areas as shown below:

Jim Dalmas - Historian: Primary Documents, House Organs, History Timeline
Bill Mackey - Collections: Obtaining Documents, Artifacts, A/V Material etc.
Jack Shagena - Administration: Web, Displays, Events,
Bob Stefan - Identification: Departmental Information, Photographs, Computer Tape Transcription
Jerry Woodall - Chief Technologist: Product Line Sorting & Cataloging, Membership, E-Beam