Joseph F. Schneider, 84, post office supervisor

May 01, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Joseph F. Schneider, retired supervisor of the Roland Park post office, died of kidney failure Sunday at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 84, and resided at the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville after living in Parkville for many years.

In his 28 years with the U.S. Postal Service, he rose from letter carrier in the Raspeburg, Hamilton and Parkville stations to chief at Roland Park, where he retired in 1974.

Born in Baltimore, he moved with his family from Canton to Lutherville, then a Baltimore County village, as a 3-year-old. It was there that he recalled placing pennies on the Pennsylvania Railroad's tracks - now the location of the light rail line - as President Warren G. Harding's funeral train passed in 1923. He saved those pennies crushed by the steam locomotive's wheels - and later became a stamp and coin collector.

His mother did not like the location of their Front Street home in Lutherville - it faced the railroad tracks - so the family moved again, to Irvington. He attended St. Joseph Monastery Parochial School and graduated from Polytechnic Institute in 1935.

Mr. Schneider learned Morse code, became a telegraph operator for Western Union and worked at its downtown branch on Baltimore Street.

"My father called 1939 his favorite year," said his son, James F. Schneider, chief U.S. bankruptcy judge for the District of Maryland. "He liked the music and the dancing at the Chanticleer and Club Charles. He danced throughout his life."

When World War II broke out, Mr. Schneider was drafted into the Army and assigned to the Signal Corps where he worked in communications. He sailed across the Atlantic in a ship convoy and landed in Africa.

"He was in three campaigns - North Africa, Sicily and the Italian mainland," said Philip Sherman, a friend who is a retired brigadier general in the Maryland National Guard. "He saw some very rough service. He had a lot of tales of those years - especially from Casablanca. He was a good conversationalist who had outstanding memories. He had total recall of the events of his life."

One of the many events he remembered was Baltimore's celebrated Palm Sunday snowstorm, March 29, 1942, where he was home on weekend leave.

"He was barely able to get out of Baltimore and back to his unit in Fort Monmouth, N.J.," his son said. "He ran for a train and made it."

In 1946, Mr. Schneider returned to Baltimore and joined the post office. He was given a mail-delivery route in parts of Northeast Baltimore that were being built up with new homes. The distances between them were too far to walk, and he drove his car - so much that he wore out a succession of Fords.

For many years, he was a member, treasurer and convention delegate of the Oriole Branch of the National Association of Letter Carriers. He was also a member of the Parkville posts of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

His wife of nearly 35 years, the former Mary Christine Lepper, died in 1981.

In addition to his son, he is survived by a sister, Mary Anna Thompson of Catonsville, and two granddaughters.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, 715 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville.

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