Frederick C. Byrnes, 73, battalion chief for Baltimore Fire Department

October 29, 1998|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Frederick C. Byrnes, a retired battalion chief in the Baltimore Fire Department, died Sunday of complications of a stroke at Mariner Health of Glen Burnie. The longtime Pasadena resident was 73.

He entered the Fire Department in 1946. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1954, captain in 1959 and battalion chief in 1964. He retired in 1990.

James M. Holthaus of Glen Burnie, a captain and 35-year Fire Department veteran, described Mr. Byrnes as "really sharp and the kind of man who really put himself into his job."

Added Mr. Holthaus: "He was very good at reacting to situations and making calls and decisions. He always worried about the safety of his crew, but he knew how to combine both men and strategy to get the job done."

Joseph A. Spadaro, retired deputy chief and Severna Park resident, said: "He was a dedicated fire chief throughout his long career and the men under his command thought the world of him.

"He had a talent for working with people and being able to communicate not only with his fellow officers but also with the firefighters. He was a good tactician and brought a lot of initiative to firefighting," he said.

"He led by example and the men never forgot that," said Battalion Chief Rod Devilbiss. "He was inspirational in forming study groups and helping men prepare for examinations for promotion."

A daughter, Mary Bridget Quinn of Catonsville, said, "He'd often take another man's place during the holidays because he thought that a father should be home with his family at Christmas and Thanksgiving."

Mr. Byrnes was a charter member and first president of the Baltimore City Fire Department Emerald Society, a member of the Retired Fire Officers and Firefighters Association and former vice president of Local 964 of the Baltimore Fire Officers Association.

He was an accomplished carpenter who did volunteer work for the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Since 1959, he had been an active communicant of St. Jane Frances de Chantal Roman Catholic Church in Riviera Beach, where he was president of the Holy Name Society and past president of the SERRA Club of Baltimore. He was also a `D member of Monsignor Raymond P. Kelley Council No. 10966 of the Knights of Columbus.

A gregarious man with a booming voice, the 6-foot-2-inch Mr. Byrnes was deeply proud of his Irish heritage. He was a member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick and the Irish Heritage Society. In 1996, he was grand marshal of Baltimore's annual St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Said to be a great storyteller, Mr. Byrnes also enjoyed playing the bagpipes and was a member of the Nasiana Bagpipe Band.

Born and raised in Hamilton in Northeast Baltimore, he attended Mount St. Joseph High School. He joined the Navy and served aboard a destroyer escort in the Pacific during World War II.

In 1948, he married Mary Alice Holthaus, who survives him.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday .

He also is survived by three other daughters, Mary Elizabeth Harkins of Bel Air, Mary Carmel Buckey of Pasadena and Mary Eileen Thompson of Richmond, Va.; two brothers, John Byrnes of Harrisburg, Pa., and Robert Byrnes of Baltimore; four sisters, Grace Cavey of Randallstown, Radiance Gibison and Donna Hollywood, both of Towson, and Ramona Flower of Perry Hall; and 11 grandchildren.

Pub Date: 10/29/98

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