William Murray, retired owner of Sun routeWilliam A...


October 13, 1992

William Murray, retired owner of Sun route

William A. Murray, a retired Baltimore Sun route owner and historian who chronicled the Baltimore City Fire Department, died Friday at Harbor Hospital Center of pneumonia. He was 79.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Murray, who had lived in recent years at the Meridian Nursing Home in Brooklyn Park, was offered yesterday at St. Mary Star of the Sea Roman Catholic Church on Riverside Avenue.

He began delivering newspapers in 1923, obtaining at the age of 10 an old State Labor Board badge that allowed young boys to provide home delivery service. He recalled loading bundles of The Sunday Sun onto special streetcars and riding with them to his assigned neighborhood.

In 1938, he bought the newspaper route from his boss, who was retiring to West Virginia, and he operated the business until 1979 long after the last trolley newspaper run.

His interest in firefighting was kindled, in part, by close ties in his boyhood neighborhood to the fire station of 6 Truck at Hanover and Ostend streets, where he would run errands for the men.

Mr. Murray was a charter member of the city fire buff club, the Box 414 Association, as well as a former president, and curator and historian of its Baltimore City Fire Museum at 414 N. Gay St.

His lifelong interest in firefighting led him to to write "The Unheralded Heroes of Baltimore's Big Blazes," an anecdotal history of the Baltimore Fire Department published in 1969. He also wrote two supplements updating it in later years, and was the co-author with William Snyder of a picture book on fire apparatus, "Rigs of the Unheralded Heroes."

In a 1970 "I Remember" article for The Sun Magazine, Mr. Murray traced the history of coffee service for firefighters battling multi-alarmers -- often provided by some willing boy eager for a pass through the lines to see the action up close.

Mr. Murray said "fire buffing" began losing some of its allure when the last of the fire house horses were sent out to pasture in 1919. But it was fire buffs who tried to bring back coffee service at fire scenes, among them Mr. Murray, in the 1940s.

He recalled how he and other unofficial helpers were chased away from a 1940 Plymouth Wallpaper Co. fire on West Baltimore Street by police, on orders from a fire official.

Box 414 -- founded in the late 1940s and named for the number of the fire box sounding the first alarms for the great fire of 1904 -- won city approval to establish canteen service and raised the money to buy a new coffee wagon.

Mr. Murray helped operate it, and was president of the organization in 1966 when it purchased a replacement wagon for $15,398 -- a vehicle that was to remain in use for a quarter-century. He said he gave up his duties as an alternate driver in 1969, "to give some of the younger buffs a turn at it."

That year, Mr. Murray's book was published -- described in a Sun review as his "labor of love," and "an unusual and interesting account of Baltimore fires from the hand-drawn pumps of volunteer days to a four-alarm fire in July of this year."

Mr. Murray's wife of 47 years, the former Ruth Naomi Wentworth, died in 1981.

He is survived by two daughters, Mary A. Klima of Baltimore and Kay Kraft of Glen Burnie; six grandchildren (two of them

firefighters); and seven great-granddaughters. Barbara A. Weishaar, who had owned an Anne Arundel County general store with her husband, died Thursday at the Maryland Manor Nursing Home of heart failure.

Services for the 84-year-old Pasadena resident were held Saturday.

Mrs. Weishaar and her husband, David Weishaar, owned Weishaar's store in Elvaton for about 25 years before his death in 1967.

The former Barbara Angyelof was a native of Baltimore. She was a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Pasadena and the Elvaton Women's Democratic Club.

She is survived by two sons, Paul H. Weishaar of Pasadena and David J. Weishaar of Texas; a sister, Marie Paola of Glen Burnie; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

Betty Mae Rhodes

Glass company worker

Betty Mae Rhodes, a retired supervisor in the packing department of the Carr-Lowrey Glass Co., died Wednesday at University of Maryland Medical Center after a stroke.

Services for the 59-year-old Glen Burnie resident were conducted Saturday.

She retired in 1988 after working for the glass company in Westport for 30 years.

The former Betty Mae List was a native of Massachusetts who moved to the Baltimore area as a child with her family.

Her husband of 30 years, John D. Rhodes Jr., died in 1984.

She is survived by two sons, John D. Rhodes III of Glen Burnie and Joseph C. Rhodes of Jacksonville, Fla.; two daughters, Shirley F. and Donna F. Rhodes, both of Glen Burnie; two sisters, JoAnn Rakes and Laura Gillen, both of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Paul A. Lawson

Railroad machinist

Paul A. Lawson of Arbutus, a retired railroad machinist who was active in church work, died Wednesday at the Frederick Villa Nursing Center in Catonsville of complications of a broken hip.

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