Rosaline Britcher, 52, teacher, entrepreneur and woodworker

February 06, 1997|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

Rosaline Britcher was never quite comfortable again in Baltimore after a student at Lombard Junior High School beat her up when she taught math there in 1978.

But things were peaceful in Stewartstown, Pa., where Mrs. Britcher lived with her family in a house she designed, and she made a new life for herself selling fire engines and all the gear that goes with fighting fires.

Mrs. Britcher died of kidney cancer Friday at her home. She was 52.

"She was one of these people who could visualize something and know all the materials she needed to put it together and make something beautiful," said Francis H. Britcher, her husband and a captain in the Baltimore Fire Department. "We have things all over the house she made out of wood, like a teddy bear with a pocket watch."

The Britchers celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary Jan. 12. Several years ago, Mrs. Britcher helped her husband through a kidney transplant. One of their sons was the donor.

"As I was getting better, she got sick," he said. "But she got her wish -- that I was with her when she went. She wanted me to make sure I held her hand. She told me to hold it for a while afterwards."

Born Rosaline Ritterbusch, she grew up in the Highlandtown area, north of Patterson Park, and graduated from Patterson Senior High School on Kane Street. Later, she went to night school to study math and mechanical drawing. Eventually, she designed the family's house in Pennsylvania.

Mrs. Britcher founded and was president of American Fire Protection Co., a business she established in 1983 that sold firetrucks, fire extinguishers and turn-out gear that firefighters wear. Before the company closed in 1995, she traveled throughout Europe, visiting local firehouses on business calls. A prized possession was a badge from the fire chief of Torun in northern Poland.

Mrs. Britcher was a member of the Civil Air Patrol at Martin State Airport and a former associate to the school board for Baltimore's Southeastern School District. She was also a big Orioles' fan who was at Camden Yards when Cal Ripken Jr. broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive games played record. The only thing to top that, her family said, was being in the stands when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass there in October 1995.

In the mid-1970s, she was active with the Linwood Children's Center in Ellicott City, and through her work there for autistic children got to meet Leah Rabin, the wife of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin.

Despite all the good things the family found in Pennsylvania, Mrs. Britcher missed Highlandtown and childhood landmarks.

"There was things she missed about it -- Matthew's pizza and Captain Harvey's subs," said John Britcher, a son who lives in Stewartstown. "There was a way of life prior to us moving that was gone -- the family out on the porch, the security of the neighborhood."

After her first radiation treatment, Mrs. Britcher scribbled down in a notebook what has become her epitaph: "My life was happy and complete with the greatest family and friends that God could give anyone and I thank Him for that. God bless you all."

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Tuesday.

Also surviving are three other sons, William Britcher of Shrewsbury, Pa., Kenneth Britcher of Annapolis and Brian Britcher of Baltimore; her parents, William R. Ritterbusch Sr. and Rosaline Ritterbusch of Severna Park; a brother, William R. Ritterbusch Jr., also of Severna Park; two sisters, Lind Chichowicz of Elkridge and Martha L. Parsons of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; nine grandchildren.

Pub Date: 2/06/97

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