Andrew A. Bartenfelder, 74, tilled family's Fullerton farm for decades

March 15, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Andrew A. Bartenfelder, a lifelong Fullerton farmer and retired correctional officer, died of congestive heart failure at Franklin Square Hospital Center on Wednesday. It was his 74th birthday.

A truck farmer, he was born and raised on his family's farm and worked it for decades, tilling land elsewhere in Maryland as well. In recent days, from his hospital bed, he reminded his son and daughter-in-law to plant this year's crops and sought daily farm reports.

He and his family long sold their produce at the farmers' markets under the Jones Falls Expressway and in Waverly, as well as from his farm stand.

He worked the fields as recently as last year, and on days when he was not up to it, "He'd still sit on the carport side of the house and talk to the people as they came" to buy produce, said his son, Baltimore County Councilman Joseph Bartenfelder, who has taken over the family farming operation.

Andrew Bartenfelder graduated from Towson Catholic High School in 1948 and went into farming with his grandfather, Adam Klein, at a time when family farms dotted much of Fullerton. Now their farmland is one of just a few family farms remaining, and Joseph Bartenfelder said his father did not like the development that was closing in.

The family's property of about 18 acres was condemned for the Fullerton Reservoir site more than 30 years ago, but they rented it back to farm, his son said. The reservoir has not been built.

The elder Mr. Bartenfelder married the former Nancy Wilson in 1955.

He also worked as a correctional officer at the Baltimore County Detention Center, retiring in 1991 after 24 1/2 years.

"He wanted to make sure everyone had security, so he went with the county and he had a regular paycheck," his son said.

Joseph Bartenfelder said he recalled returning from a trip to Ocean City after his 1978 college graduation and announcing to his parents that he had just filed to seek political office in what ultimately was an unsuccessful bid for a delegate's seat. He said his parents looked up from picking strawberries and chided him that they did not send their only child to college so that he would go into farming and politics.

Nevertheless, he said, he had his parents' support and his father was by his side in both ventures, helping him with political campaigns and working farmland with him.

The search for affordable farmland took the family to work on the Eastern Shore. The family bought 100 acres in Preston about seven years ago, where they grew, among other crops, melons and cantaloupes.

"He'd drive down there. He'd be down there to start at 8 [a.m.]," and would be home for a 5:30 p.m. dinner, Joseph Bartenfelder said of his father.

"He was always free labor. He wouldn't take a dollar. He said he was always doing it to help us," he recalled.

Andrew Bartenfelder pored over farming newspapers and kept an eye on auctions. He liked flowers, and enjoyed growing pansies and phlox for spring markets.

He spent winters with seed catalogs. "He would read them just about cover to cover, and he would say, `You better try this and you better try that,'" his son recalled.

He was a member of St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church and served as an usher there for many years. He participated in the church's Holy Name Society.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. today at the church, 8420 Belair Road, Fullerton.

In addition to his wife of 48 years and his son, he is survived by a sister, Margaret A. Bartenfelder of Perry Hall; and four grandchildren.

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