Martin A. Schwemmer, 81, chief ship's engineer

April 29, 2004

Martin A. Schwemmer, a retired chief ship's engineer who sailed for Bethlehem Steel Corp., died of cancer Tuesday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Towson resident was 81.

Born in Baltimore and raised on East Eager Street, Mr. Schwemmer graduated from the old St. James the Less Parochial School at Aisquith and Eager streets.

During World War II, he served in the merchant marine aboard Liberty Ships in the Atlantic and Pacific. He then joined Bethlehem Steel and became chief engineer on the Bethtex and Bethflor.

During this time, he transported cargo across the Atlantic, down the Mississippi and Amazon rivers and through the Panama Canal.

During layoffs at Bethlehem Steel, he sailed with the Energy Transportation Corp.'s Capricorn and Libra, transporting liquid natural gas, on their maiden voyages out of Quincy, Mass.

"His philosophy was work hard, get a good education, if you build something make sure it lasts your lifetime, never throw anything away because you might need it, and enjoy your family and friends," said his daughter, Carol L. Purvis of Timonium.

Mr. Schwemmer enjoyed traveling, boating, fishing, football and steamed crabs. He belonged to the Maryland Marine Club, the Towson Moose, Towson Elks, St. John's 10th Ward Oldtimers and Lett's Pleasure Club.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at noon today at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church, 101 Church Lane, Cockeysville.

Survivors include a son, Michael Schwemmer of Riderwood; another daughter, Debra Mauk of Olney; a brother, Edwin Schwemmer of Carney; two sisters, Elsie Schepf of Fort Pierce, Fla. and Sylvia Benner of Sanibel Island, Fla.; a companion, Audrey Schwemmer of Towson; and four grandchildren. His wife of 44 years, the former Betty Jane Lee, a retired Western Union telegram courier, died in 1995.

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