William E. Rumberger Jr., 81, longtime Boeing engineer and inventor

William E. Rumberger Jr., 81, of Newtown Square, a mechanical engineer who helped design airplane parts at the Boeing Co. for many years, died Sept. 24, of cancer at Bryn Mawr Hospital.

Courtesy of the family

William E. Rumberger, Jr.

Mr. Rumberger, who was known to friends as “Bill,” was born in Darby Borough to William and Valinda  Rumberger and reared in Essington. The Christian faith he learned from his family was an important guiding principle.

He spent a happy childhood picking wild elderberries on Tinicum Island, catching snapping turtles along the banks of the Darby Creek, and playing with his dog, Buster. He graduated from what was then Lansdowne High School.

While studying mechanical engineering at Drexel University, Mr. Rumberger was an intern at Boeing in Ridley Park.

After graduating, he went on to spend his entire career, beginning in 1959, at Boeing, as a designer and tester of parts used on various aircraft. “The job utilized his genius in lightweight design,” his family said in a tribute.

Starting in 1982, Mr. Rumberger filed for and was granted 15 patents for inventions. One 1984 patent was for a system used in helicopters to detect and collect debris in fluid flow and to route the debris to a reservoir while keeping the fluid moving and the aircraft in motion.

U.S. Office of Patents and Trademarks

A drawing of the flex ring patented by Mr. Rumberger and an illustration of how it was used to stow the wings of the V-22 Osprey when not in use.

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