William D. Newberrey III, 54, firefighter

September 07, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

William David Newberrey III, a Baltimore firefighter and longtime fire volunteer in Baltimore County, died of a heart attack Thursday at his Chestnut Ridge home. He was 54.

A 28-year veteran with the Baltimore Fire Department, Mr. Newberrey worked at the 45th Engine Company on Cross Country Boulevard as a pump operator. In his free time, he volunteered with the Chestnut Ridge and Owings Mills fire companies.

Mr. Newberrey recently brought his son, David Newberrey, 19, of Chestnut Ridge, into the Chestnut Ridge company.

Said the young firefighter of his father: "He was my first lieutenant, my father and my best friend. I wanted to ride the same engines as [him]."

Raymond O. Devilbiss Jr., a battalion chief with the Baltimore Fire Department and a longtime friend of Mr. Newberrey, said, "In his job as pump operator, it was his responsibility to get water to the nozzles and you could always count on Bill to do that. He was dedicated, conscientious, dependable and a very hard worker."

At the time of his death, Mr. Newberrey served as a first lieutenant at the Chestnut Ridge firehouse in northern Baltimore County.

"Even when he had worked all day in the city, if there was a fire at night in his community, he took that call and made that run," said Janet McCaffery, his fiancee. "Bill was always there."

Born in Cumberland and reared in Baltimore County, Mr. Newberrey was a graduate of Franklin High School in Reisterstown. After graduation, he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served two tours of duty in Vietnam.

Although injured by a grenade -- and awarded a Purple Heart he kept in a showcase at home -- Mr. Newberrey rarely talked about the war.

Mr. Newberrey joined the Chestnut Ridge company in the early 1960s, encouraged by his father, who had helped build the station on Greenspring Avenue. It was a lifelong commitment.

"He has probably been here since he was 16," said Harry Kakel, treasurer of the fire company. "He took care of all the apparatus, helped design all the equipment and made sure everything was always in good shape. He took a lot of pride in all the companies that he served. You could say all his waking moments were in fire service."

As David Newberrey learned the art of firefighting, his father didn't hesitate to correct errors.

"He would take me out back of the engine house and let me know what I did wrong," he said. "But then we'd go out front and he was my best friend again. The older I got the more I saw how important he was to the community. I have met so many people that he saved."

The volunteers will miss Mr. Newberrey's expertise and dedication, Mr. Kakel said.

"We were lucky to have him. We could always count on Bill. He was a guy that could do it all, a multipurpose firefighter, who was both an officer and an engineer," he said.

"Firefighting ran through his veins like blood; his son was his first love, but firefighting came right after," said Ms. McCaffery of Owings Mills. "This generation doesn't take it to heart like he did. For many, the thrill was riding on the engine, but his was answering the call."

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

In addition to his son and fiancee, survivors include four sisters, Dorothy Eaton of Omaha, Neb., and Carole Hoffmeister, Wilma Lippy and Helena Vetri, all of Baltimore County; and two stepsons, Daniel Marchant and Timothy Marchant, both of Finksburg.

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