Milton R. Weglein, 85, Baltimore port captain

May 30, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Milton R. Weglein, a former Baltimore port captain who commanded Liberty ships during World War II, died Wednesday of heart failure at Homewood Center Genesis Eldercare. He was 85 and a longtime Govans resident.

Captain Weglein was born and raised in Canton and graduated from City College in 1931. He was 17 when he went to sea and joined the merchant marine as an ordinary seaman.

"In the early 1930s, going to sea was about the only job you could get because of the Depression," said his brother, Gordon Weglein of Baltimore.

After leaving and working briefly at Bethlehem Steel Corp., he returned to sea and worked his way up from able-bodied seaman to third, second and first officer, and, eventually, to captain.

In 1940, he earned his master's ticket and was a steamship captain for Farrell Lines on the company's cargo vessels.

During World War II, he commanded Liberty ships in convoys operated by Farrell Lines in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

In 1943, his ship was torpedoed by a German submarine and sank in the North Atlantic.

"He and his crew were shipwrecked for a couple of days before they were picked up with none of the men lost," said his wife of 45 years, the former Lillie Connor.

Captain Weglein participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944. "After D-Day, I didn't hear from him for four months because he was so busy going back and forth," said Mrs. Weglein.

After the war, he resumed commanding Farrell Line freighters until 1950, when he left to work for Norton-Lilly, Baltimore steamship agents, as port captain.

In 1977, Captain Weglein became local manager for M. J. Rudolph Corp. of Newark, N.J., supervising the company's R-14, a 130-ton revolving crane with a 120-foot boom. Mounted on a converted Navy barge, the crane was used in the port of Baltimore to aid ships whose heavy lifting cranes broke, or for loading oversized cargoes.

After retiring in 1985, Captain Weglein maintained his master's ticket. "He still took the tests and had recently renewed his license," said his son, Dr. David T. Weglein of Stoneleigh.

"He loved being a steamship captain," Mrs. Weglein said. "It was his whole life. He [was] buried with his captain's hat."

Captain Weglein was a member of Holy Comforter Lutheran Church in Govans for more than 40 years. He was a Mason and member of Highland Lodge No. 184.

Services were held Friday at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Funeral Home.

He also is survived by two grandchildren.

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