Edward W. Kreatschman, 82, pilot in World War II

November 26, 1999|By Jill Hudson Neal | Jill Hudson Neal,SUN STAFF

Edward Walter Kreatschman, an Army pilot during World War II who once flew his plane under the London Bridge on a $10 bet, died Tuesday of heart failure in his North Baltimore home. He was 82.

Mr. Kreatschman had an arsenal of colorful tales about his exploits during the war and, during his later years, he loved nothing more than to regale family and friends with stories about his unusual experiences.

"His passions were eating and his garden, and when you do both, you talk," said his son-in-law, Mark Rabiecki of Jarrettsville. "We used to sit around with a bushel of crabs, and he'd start reminiscing about his days as a pilot. He was fun to talk to."

As part of the Army's 438th Troop Carrier Squadron, Mr. Kreatschman fought in Europe. He was one of five brothers who served in the war; his two brothers-in-law also saw active duty. All seven survived.

Mr. Kreatschman would remember a story about his Army days and just start up a conversation, said Mr. Rabiecki.

Only a few weeks ago, he said, he heard Mr. Kreatschman's account of being shot down over the Atlantic Ocean. "He said he spent seven days on a raft before being rescued," Mr. Rabiecki said. "He was half-starved to death and sunburned, but he lived to tell the story."

Family members told of the time Mr. Kreatschman flew on an unofficial mission to Scotland to pick up some scotch for a general. His plane was blown up by saboteurs less than a minute after he and his co-pilot walked away from it.

He flew his plane under the bridge on a bet with his co-pilot. "He got thrown in the brig for a couple of days for that one," said an older brother, Arthur Kreatschman of Atlanta. "He even made the London papers for it. He had a real zest for life. All five of the boys did. We all loved to dance. We'd go out and they'd say, `Oh, here come the Kreatschman boys.' "

Mr. Kreatschman was born in Baltimore, and the family later moved to Arbutus. He attended Catonsville High School.

In 1943, Mr. Kreatschman married Margaret Gregory, his wife of 50 years. She died in 1993.

After the war, he was a plant manager for a local can company before becoming regional plant manager for Crown Cork & Seal Co., now the country's largest maker of cans for food and beverages.

After he retired in 1989, Mr. Kreatschman worked as a staff manager for BSI Temporaries and as an evening plant manager for Noxell, a subsidiary of Procter & Gamble, on York Road in Sparks.

He enjoyed tending to his hybrid rose bushes, playing with his dogs and meeting with old friends. "I never knew anyone who loved life so much," said his wife, Sandra Gramp Kreatschman. "He was always running into people up at the grocery store who remembered him from the old days at the canning plant."

Mr. Kreatschman had lived in the same house in the 6200 block of Fernway in North Baltimore since 1957.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. tomorrow at St. Pius X Catholic Church in the 6400 block of York Road in Rodgers Forge.

He also is survived by two daughters, Rita K. Rabiecki of Jarrettsville and Christine V. Gramp of Hampden; two brothers, Ted Kreatschman of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Richard Kreatschman of Baltimore; two sisters, Marian J. Walsh of Elkridge and Eleanor Foster of Port St. John, Fla.; and many nieces and nephews.

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