Robert W. Darr Jr., 72, Arundel fire battalion chief...

March 17, 2002

Robert W. Darr Jr., 72, Arundel fire battalion chief

Robert W. Darr Jr., a retired battalion chief in the Anne Arundel County Fire Department who traveled the country in a motor home to see the places he read about in books, died Monday of complications from heart surgery in Leesburg, Fla. The longtime Crownsville resident was 72.

Mr. Darr was born in Washington, D.C., and enlisted in the Army Air Forces in 1946 to pursue his dream of becoming a professional firefighter. He was then a member of the Herald Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, an affiliation he maintained throughout his life. In the Army, he served at U.S. airfields as a crash rescueman before being discharged in 1948.

Shortly before his discharge, he met Margaret A. Pongratz on a blind date in St. Louis, where he proposed a few months later on an excursion boat trip. The couple were married the next summer in a small church in her hometown of Erie, Pa.

They returned briefly to live in Washington, where Mr. Darr worked for a short time at a vending machine company before signing on as an Anne Arundel County firefighter. In the course of a 24-year career there, he rose to the rank of battalion chief before his retirement in 1983.

The couple then purchased a motor home and took to the highway, traveling the country to visit points of interest that Mr. Darr, an avid reader, had gleaned from books and maps over the years.

"He read books all the time," recalled Mrs. Darr. "All through the years, he would sit down and read a map, then pick up and say: `Pack a bag, honey, we're going someplace.' When he retired, he got to travel full time. We did that for four or five years before we finally found this place in Lady Lake, Florida, that he just loved and settled down there."

Mr. Darr was active in the Friends of Bill W. and enjoyed spending time with his five grandchildren.

Services will be private.

In addition to his wife of 52 years and his grandchildren, Mr. Darr is survived by four sons, George M. Darr of Millersville, Robert W. Darr III of Crownsville and Gary S. Darr and Terence P. Darr, both of Edgewater; and a sister, Catherine Oliver of Lady Lake.


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