Firefighter, 80, answered calls since he was 13


April 11, 1997|By Peg Adamarczk | Peg Adamarczk,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

EIGHTY-YEAR-OLD William G. Rothamel, a member of the Lake Shore Volunteer Fire Company, vividly remembers his first ride in a firetruck. It was 1929, and he was a 13-year-old hiking down the road with a bucket in his hand to help respond to a call for help. The Earleigh Heights Fire Department pulled up, and he hopped aboard the truck.

He can't remember anymore what was on fire.

But he never forgot how much he loved helping neighbors in time of trouble.

Mr. Will, as he is known around the firehouse, likes to recall how the volunteer fire company began back in 1944. He kicked in the first bucks to get the ball rolling to get a charter from the state.

Lake Shore's first firetruck, an old, secondhand number purchased from the Catonsville Volunteer Fire Company, transported men and equipment down unpaved rural roads to save lives and protect property, back when a dog could lie in the middle of Mountain Road and not see a car or truck all day.

The area has grown up, and Mr. Will has grown old. Through 53 years of service, he has held many firefighting ranks and positions on the company's board of directors. While county regulations will not allow Mr. Will to ride the engines anymore, he remains an active member and is again heading the fire company's annual fund drive.

At noon tomorrow, in his honor, fellow volunteers, local dignitaries and members of the community will dedicate a newpumper-tanker to him. The impressive pumper-tanker carries an impressive price tag, too: $326,153, not including $47,000 for equipment. The department needed it to protect communities in the Mountain Road area that lack fire hydrants.

Company Chief Elbert C. Cordle Jr. said the fire company decided unanimously to dedicate the pumper-tanker to Mr. Will. "The community and the county has benefited and continues to benefit from his efforts," Cordle said. "We can't keep up with him, he is a source of strength to us all."

About the only disagreement about whose name to engrave on the bronze plaque came from Mr. Will himself. With a voice choked with emotion, he talked about the efforts of all the volunteers, from the Monday night bingo workers to the men and women who make the runs. He talked about all the time they put into helping the community and he mostly played down anything special he did.

After tomorrow's dedication, he will go back to his Gray's Creek home with his wife, Ella, and continue planning the fund drive. He has promised to visit me this summer for my donation, and I'll look forward to his knock at my front door.

Honored students

Kudos to several George Fox Middle School students who competed and received awards in the county school's Media Festival last weekend.

Bonnie Schupp, the school enrichment teacher, said many students were participating in their first photography contest. "We are proud of the students that participated and happy for those that won," she said.

Awards went to:

Experimental -- Jeannine Bobb, first place; Lindsey Miller, second; Brandi Brown and Justin Walker, honorable mention.

Still life -- Megan Dodge, second; Jeannie Bobb, third; Neal MacDonald and Nathan Perry, honorable mention.

Life study (people) -- Neal MacDonald, third; Tabetha Backoff, Lindsay Payne, Tracy Leatherwood, Stacey Mullan, Ashley Helms and Jade Lowery, honorable mention.

Landscape -- Ashley Helms, Lindsay Payne and Tabetha Backoff, honorable mention.

An animated video called "The Sacrifice," created by Morgan Blessing and Brittany Sears, made its debut at the festival as did the World Wide Web page created by the five-student team of James Stallings, Tim Burke, Jeremy Spalt, Tony Lascola and Jill Kelly.

While I have this school on my mind, I would like to wish good luck to an Odyssey of the Mind team that will travel to the University of Maryland Baltimore County on Saturday to compete against top teams from all over Maryland.

The seven-member team is coached by middle school teachers Eileen McLynn and Carol Jarobe. Team members are Carey Phelps, Dale Jarmer, Jeff King, Ryan Scough, Kathleen Huffman, Shelby Schorm and Christine Zeitschel.

Church fund raising

Galilee Lutheran Church, 4652 Mountain Road, will be the site of three fund-raising events.

From 11 a.m. until sellout tomorrow, the church men's group will sell barbecued chicken. The cost is $3 for a half-chicken. Proceeds will be used to fill food baskets for needy Pasadena families.

The church's youth group will hold two Mystery Dinners in the fellowship hall at 6 p.m. April 18 and 19. Adventurous diners will choose items from a disguised menu. "The names could refer to the size, the quantity or how you eat it," said Marilyn Eaves, youth group volunteer.

Tickets are $10. Reservations are encouraged.

Proceeds will be used to help send youth group members to a conference in Atlanta in August 1998. Information: 410-255-8236 or Jim Burke 410-255-6874.

Pub Date: 4/11/97

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