Street rodders rev engines in memory of dear friend

May 04, 1994|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Sun Staff Writer

Steve Plitt never got to finish fixing up the 1951 Ford truck his father gave him for his 18th birthday. Leukemia took him Saturday at the age of 23.

But his friends and colleagues remembered him in a novel way yesterday, driving their black, maroon and yellow street rods in a long funeral procession from St. James Evangelical Lutheran Church in Rockdale down Liberty Road to Woodlawn Cemetery.

Mr. Plitt, a native of Randallstown, was a member of the Liberty Street Rodders, a club in Carroll County whose members spend much of their spare time renovating pre-1954 automobiles.

"He was a great car builder," said Twigg Ludwig, vice president of the club. "He was the youngest member of our club, but we all learned a lot from him."

Yesterday for Mr. Plitt's tribute, the cars -- Ford and Chevy coupes from the 1930s and a 1940 Chevy Special Deluxe -- were shined and tuned to perfection by club members.

Mr. Plitt was a 1989 graduate of Randallstown High School and was attending Towson State University at the time of his death. He had been ill for about 18 months.

He owned and operated Liberty Lawn and Landscaping Co. in Randallstown.

"He was very good with his hands," said his aunt, Eileen Freter. "Besides cars, he liked to operate boats, planes and cars by remote control, and he could fix just about anything."

Matt Keiser, a friend since the first grade at Church Lane Elementary in Randallstown, said Mr. Plitt was irreplaceable.

"He handled his illness like a soldier," he said. "He never complained, and he would pretend he wasn't even sick."

Scott Roche, another longtime friend, remembered Mr. Plitt's commitment to that birthday pickup truck.

"He could have had all the girlfriends in the world, but he would rather work on his truck," Mr. Roche said. "It was amazing what he had already done with it."

Street rods became popular after World War II, said Karl Ardo, a member of the Liberty Street club.

"The kids couldn't afford the new cars, so they bought old cars for practically nothing, souped them up and gave them an attitude," he said. "It's something that caught on, and now the cars are valuable."

In his eulogy, the Rev. Robert L. Day Jr., pastor of St. James, called Mr. Plitt "truly a person of a pure heart."

Mr. Plitt is survived by his parents, Donald and Sue Plitt of Finksburg; and a brother, Michael.

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