Jean M. Citro, 60, streetcar fan, museum president

June 03, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Jean M. Citro, the first woman president of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, a motorman and longtime Girl Scout and parochial school volunteer, died Tuesday of cancer at Union Memorial Hospital. The lifelong Overlea resident was 60.

Mrs. Citro was a familiar figure to those who attended events or took weekend rides on the streetcars at the Falls Road museum.

Mrs. Citro was a trained motorman who dressed in an authentic midnight-blue Baltimore Transit Co. uniform and hat. She operated cars or acted as conductor making her way through the humming and swaying cars collecting fares from passengers and answering questions.

An outgoing woman with a cheerful personality, Mrs. Citro was known for her informative thumbnail sketch of the history of streetcar operation in Baltimore and the founding of the museum, which she presented to riders while the car briefly laid over on the loop beneath the 28th Street bridge before heading back to the car barn.

Mrs. Citro joined the museum in 1972 at the urging of her husband, Michael R. Citro Sr.

The couple, the museum's only husband-and-wife team, worked what are known as "Two-Man" cars, swapping the job of motorman and conductor.

"She liked the open summer car. She really loved that one, and I think it was her favorite," said Mr. Citro.

In 1973, she moved up to conductor and, after some reluctance, agreed to learn how to operate the heavy cars. In 1975, she qualified to operate the cars and was named a museum trustee.

She was elected museum president in 1980, and was believed to be the only woman in the nation to head a railroad museum. She served until 1987 and remained a museum trustee until 1990.

"She had so much warmth and enthusiasm that we called her the `Den Mother,' " said the museum's president, John J. O'Neill of Jarrettsville.

Mr. O'Neill recalled the time a streetcar fan asked Mrs. Citro how many rivets a particular trolley had.

"She said, `I don't know the answer. But we'll count them after we get back to the barn.' And there was Jean with the man, counting every rivet," he said, laughing.

Mrs. Citro also had held the position of director of community relations and was responsible for the Thursday Night Cool Off and Ride Service, which harked back to the days when Baltimoreans rode streetcars to cool off on hot summer nights.

"She was a joy to work with and was very successful in bringing different viewpoints and people together at the museum," said Andrew Blumberg, museum director of public relations.

Born Jean M. Bodenschatz, she grew up two blocks from the end of the old No. 15 car line in Overlea.

She was a 1955 graduate of Kenwood High School and worked as a secretary at Westinghouse Electric Corp. before her marriage in 1959.

In addition to her work at the museum, Mrs. Citro had been troop service director for Community 86 of the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. Since 1971, she had been an active volunteer in the library of St. Michael the Archangel Parochial School in Overlea.

She and her husband were also known for their annual "his and her" Christmas gardens, which they erected in their Kenwood Avenue home.

A Mass of Christian burial was offered yesterday at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, where she was a lifelong parishioner.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by two sons, Michael R. Citro Jr. and David Citro, both of Overlea; a daughter, Donna Bourne of Putty Hill; and six grandchildren.

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