Norbert C. Nitsch Jr., 87, city transit official

December 23, 2003

Norbert C. Nitsch Jr., who helped bring computerized traffic signals to Baltimore as assistant commissioner of the former city Department of Transit and Traffic, died Saturday of Alzheimer's disease complications at the Charlestown Retirement Community. The Catonsville resident was 87.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Adelle Terrace, he was a 1935 graduate of Mount St. Joseph High School. He earned a degree from Loyola College in 1939 and a certificate in traffic engineering from Northwestern University.

During World War II, he was a Navy medic in the South Pacific serving with the Marine Corps. He later became the chief medical officer on a minesweeper in the North Atlantic.

In 1946, he became a traffic engineer and later worked alongside Henry Barnes, who as department commissioner became famous for instituting sequential traffic lights, one-way streets and lights for pedestrian crossings -- some of them dubbed the "Barnes dance." Before retiring in 1980 as an assistant commissioner, Mr. Nitsch helped set up a computerized traffic light system.

A founding member of the Rock Hall Yacht Club, he had a summer home, Athol Lodge, in the Eastern Shore community for many years. He enjoyed fishing and crabbing.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today at Charlestown's Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, 715 Maiden Choice Lane.

Survivors include his wife of 59 years, the former Virginia Hanauer; a son, Norbert C. Nitsch III of St. Augustine, Fla.; three daughters, Gerry Serviente of Carlisle, Pa., Ann Price of Cockeysville and Jane Nitsch of Catonsville; a sister, Jane M. Ford of Rock Hall; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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