Walter A. Kratz, 70, owned stables

May 30, 1994|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Walter Alonzo Kratz, a second generation West Baltimore stable owner and horse dealer whose generosity was well-known throughout Southwest Baltimore, died Thursday of a heart attack at St. Joseph Hospital. He was 70.

Since 1950, he had operated Kratz' Stable on Carlton Street, which rented horses, mules and wagons to a-rabbers, the picturesque vendors who once were a common sight on the streets of the city.

His father, Walter B. Kratz, bought the stables, which dated to 1899, in 1928.

At its height, the business rented more than 40 horses and wagons to vendors who sold ice, wood, coal and produce to customers summoned by their street calls.

In recent years, Mr. Kratz had focused much of his energy on buying and selling horses to the Amish in New Holland, Pa., where weekly horse auctions are held.

The Rev. James Miles, a nephew who lives in Baltimore, said, "He loved the stable and horse business and was very much involved with the life of Southwest Baltimore. He knew everyone on a first-name basis in the Hollins Market, paid tuition for neighborhood children so they could attend school, and he was a great lover of St. Peter the Apostle Church, where he was a longtime parishioner. Even though he had lived in Lansdowne for many years, he chose to stay with St. Peter's because it was an inner city church and he loved its history."

The Rev. Michael J. Roach, pastor of St. Peter the Apostle Roman Catholic Church, a Greek Revival building that is home to one of the city's oldest parishes and where Mr. Kratz had been head usher for 13 years, said, "Every year he gave the produce for the poor baskets that were distributed at Christmas, plus he gave all the Christmas trees for the church.

"He had a great raft of friends and was a wonderful man. Extremely generous. He knew Southwest Baltimore like the back of his hand and was an incredible character that once you met him, you'd never forget.

In describing his affection for the historic Mount Clare neighborhood, which once set its comings and goings by the whistle of the B&O railroad shops, Father Roach said, "His heart will always be in the alleys and streets of Southwest Baltimore, which he loved so much."

He grew up on Arlington Avenue and attended St. Peter's School and, according to Father Roach, still visited and kept in touch with the Sisters of Mercy who had taught him in his youth, many now in their 90s.

He briefly worked in the Fairfield shipyard of Bethlehem Steel Corp. before enlisting in the Navy in 1942.

The ship he was serving on as a gunner's mate was torpedoed, and he spent 29 days on a life raft before being rescued. He was discharged in 1946 and returned to Baltimore.

A Requiem Mass will be offered at 10:45 a.m. today at St. Peter the Apostle, 848 Hollins St., Baltimore.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, the former Ellen King; two sons, Walter R. Kratz and Anthony B. Kratz; a daughter, Dolores Rose Hall; three brothers, Robert Kratz, Joseph Kratz and William Kratz; a sister, Doris Cimino; and four grandchildren, all of Baltimore.

Memorial donations may be made to the church, 848 Hollins St., Baltimore 21223.

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