John Norris “Jack” Childs, 91, formerly of Mt. Airy and Wyndmoor, owner of a heavy industrial metal cleaning and maintenance firm, died June 11 of dementia at the Falls Center Hospice of Philadelphia. He had been a resident of Wesley Enhanced Living at Stapeley in Germantown for the past nine years.
Mr. Childs was the owner and vice president of Metalweld Inc., of Oaks, a company that did metal cleaning and maintenance in the region and nationwide. One of his major projects was the cleaning of the bronze statue of William Penn atop City Hall Tower, using what was then a new process – spraying water at high pressure – that removed corrosion without damaging the metal.
Born in Argentina, where his American father was employed on an engineering project, he returned to the United States and spent his childhood in Meadowbrook. He attended the Meadowbrook School, Germantown Friends School, and received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
During World War II he served in the Navy at the MIT Radiation Laboratory in Boston.
An inventor, Mr. Childs developed a control system that prevented missiles on the big guns mounted on battleships from jamming. His device for radio control of guided missiles was patented in 1958, under his name.
Later in life, he received a master’s degree in medieval history from Temple University.
Mr. Childs served on the boards of the Grandom Institution, which provides grants for heating fuel; Awbury Arboretum; Stapeley; Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and Friends Fiduciary, a philanthropic arm of the Society of Friends.
Active on many committees of Germantown Friends, he served as treasurer, a trustee, a property committee member, and a teacher of First Day School at the Germantown Monthly Meeting.
He is survived by sons Norris and Daniel; daughters Carla and Marion; 11 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. Mr. Child’s wife, the former Virginia Price, died in 2012.
A memorial service was held Aug. 23 at the Germantown Monthly Meeting. Interment was private.
Donations may be made to Germantown Friends School at www.germantownfriends.org, or the Germantown Monthly Meeting, 47 W. Coulter St., Philadelphia 19144. – WF
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