Curtis Steigerwalt, 79, city police officer

May 31, 2004

Curtis Steigerwalt, a former Baltimore police officer who retired after being injured while on duty, died of lung cancer Thursday at St. Luke's Hospice in Bethlehem, Pa. He was 79.

Mr. Steigerwalt was born in Andreas, Pa., and grew up on his family's farm. After high school, he joined the Navy and served during World War II as a gunner. He saw action at Guadalcanal in the South Pacific.

After being discharged in 1946, he married his high school sweetheart, Rosalie D. Heitz, and worked for Atlas Powder Co. in Tamaqua, Pa.

In 1958, he moved to Baltimore with his wife and two children and became a patrolman in the Southwest District. The family lived in Edmondson Village and later in Lansdowne.

As a police officer, he fired his gun only once, said his son, William C. Steigerwalt of North Wales, Pa. A bear found its way to a Southwest Baltimore car dealership and crashed through a plate-glass window. When the bear exited, he fired his gun at the animal. His son didn't know whether the animal was hit.

Mr. Steigerwalt enjoyed being a police officer, his son said. "He loved it. He loved taking care of people." He was an Orioles fan, and when he had traffic duty for games, he brought along his son, who would go sit in the bleachers. Mr. Steigerwalt would join his son for four or five innings and then return to traffic duty.

He retired in 1974, after injuring his back in a car accident while on duty. About two years later, he and his wife moved to Pompano Beach, Fla. A decade later they moved back to Pennsylvania, settling in the small town of Ashfield. His wife died in 1993.

He liked to draw and enjoyed woodworking. He combined these hobbies to create wooden cutouts of cartoon characters and animals, which he put in his yard.

A graveside service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Ben Salem Cemetery in Lehighton, Pa.

Mr. Steigerwalt also is survived by his daughter, Debra M. McCord of State College, Pa.; three brothers, Hilbert Steigerwalt and Luther Steigerwalt, both of Lehighton, Pa., and Bruce Steigerwalt of Bradford County, Pa.; four sisters, Mae Womer of Allentown, Pa., Elaine Sowers and Phyllis Kobal, both of Andreas, Pa., and Janice Jeck of New Ringgold, Pa.; six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

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