Kurt Kuegler, tenor from old country

March 17, 1993|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,Staff Writer

Six elderly gentleman gathered at the wake of their friend Kurt Kuegler this week to sing the old German songs.

Although Mr. Kuegler spent 70 of his 92 years in Baltimore, his love never waned for the music he learned as a boy growing up in Weissenfels, a German village in Bavaria.

"Dad used to like to go up into the Appalachian Mountains on vacation and walk through the woods playing his mandolin and a harmonica and singing," said George K. Kuegler, a son. "It reminded him of when he was young."

Kurt Walter Kuegler, a tenor, died of heart disease Thursday at Church Hospital. A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated yesterday at Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church near the South Macon Street rowhouse where he lived for seven decades.

The son of a cobbler, Mr. Kuegler joined the German navy at age 16 and learned seamanship on a square-rigged sailing ship. Serving as a cook, he was wounded during World War I, and he joined the German merchant marine after his discharge.

He jumped ship in Baltimore in the early 1920s and was soon absorbed into the huge German community here. After briefly working as a shipyard welder, he began his American career as a cook.

Mr. Kuegler worked in kitchens at Pimlico race course; prepared muskrat, black bear and terrapin at the famed Miller Brothers restaurant downtown; and cooked at a handful of local hotels through the mid-1940s.

During World War II, he began working in cafeterias at defense factories. After stints with the Bendix Corp. and Western Electric, he landed at the Crown Cork & Seal Co., two blocks from his home. He retired there in 1967.

In 1926, he had met the former Martha Stricker, a German-born Baltimore governess, at an amusement park on Wilkens Avenue. A year later they were married. Mrs. Kuegler did the cooking.

"Dad could cook for large groups of people but not for a family. He just couldn't make food in small quantities," said George Kuegler. "Dad would do the carving at home, but the kitchen was Mom's."

Mrs. Kuegler died in 1961.

When he wasn't working or maintaining the sheet music library for the German Singing Society of Baltimore, Kurt Kuegler enjoyed fishing and crabbing and going down to Fort Howard with binoculars and a lawn chair to watch ships come and go. And he grew roses in the back yard.

Mr. Kuegler is survived by two sons, George Kuegler of Columbia and A. William Kuegler of Hamilton; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggested memorial donations to Church Hospital, 100 N. Broadway, Baltimore 21231.

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