Dundalk remembers family killed in fire

Victims are honored with new playground at Norwood Elementary

April 18, 2001|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

Dundalk doesn't forget.

Seven hundred schoolchildren and residents gathered yesterday at a new playground at Norwood Elementary School to dedicate the bright yellow, red and blue equipment to the six members of the Jamison-McCready family killed in September 1999 when fire engulfed their home.

The playground was built with $34,000 raised by local children who operated lemonade stands and car washes, donations from area businesses and funds from Baltimore County. Thousands more came from strangers, some as far away as New York.

"It's very personal, this dedication," said Linda Smith, one of the community organizers. "The father who died in the fire was my son's Little League coach; one of the children who died was my son Adam's teammate."

Killed in the Williams Avenue fire were Raymond G. Jamison, 36; his wife, Marie S. Jamison, 33; and the couple's four children, two each from previous marriages: James McCready, 10, Brandon McCready, 6, Raymond Jamison, 12, and Jacob Jamison, 10.

The four children had all gone to Norwood.

The fatality toll was the worst in county history, and fire Capt. Joseph Griebel of Dundalk will never chase it from his memory. Griebel, the commander of the Dundalk fire station, was on the first engine that arrived at the blaze.

"The outcome was decided by the time we got there," said Griebel, who helped in the fund-raising drive and attended yesterday's ceremony.

"It was terribly frustrating not being able to do anything at the fire; the house was fully involved," Griebel said. "So the dedication gives my crew and me some closure. This will be a positive lasting memory."

The new equipment includes three children's slides, climbing apparatus, a shuttle slide, spiral climbs and a walkover ramp. The equipment replaces the old school playground that was more than 40 years old.

Cheryl Boardwine, another community organizer, said the playground colors of yellow, red and blue were chosen "because those beautiful children who perished were so bright."

"We all thought that instead of planting trees in their memory the playground would be more appropriate," she said. "Everyone loved those boys."

Before the fire, the father and the boys were active in the Patapsco Neck-Norwood recreation council sports programs. The father coached baseball, and the children played a number of sports.

County Councilman John Olszewski Sr. of Dundalk said yesterday that a positive reminder would be one of the fire's legacies.

"Out of this tragedy, the family will not be forgotten," he said. "Dundalk comes together at these sort of times. It's that sort of place."

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