Joseph R. Spangle Sr., 81, real estate broker, builder

October 17, 2004

Joseph R. Spangle Sr., a real estate broker and homebuilder, died of heart failure Oct. 10 at York Hospital in York, Pa. The longtime Towson resident was 81. He had lived in Shrewsbury, Pa., since 1986.

Born in Coalport, Pa., Mr. Spangle moved to Baltimore as a young boy in the 1920s. He attended Mount St. Joseph's High School, where he played first base on the baseball team.

Mr. Spangle was still a teenager when his father's legs had to be amputated after a train accident. To help support the family, he joined the merchant marine for about a year, sailing to the Mideast, said his daughter, Teresa A. Smith of Jarrettsville.

He was drafted into the Army in 1941 and was discharged for medical reasons in 1943.

After his discharge, Mr. Spangle embarked upon a career in real estate. He built and sold homes for many years, opening up the market in Anne Arundel County during the 1950s and 1960s.

"He was one of the first builders in that area, when it was pretty underdeveloped," his daughter said.

He also built houses in Pennsylvania until the early 1970s.

Mr. Spangle moved to Strausburg Haus, a retirement community in Shrewsbury, shortly after he retired in 1986.

He enjoyed fishing, reading and attending the opera, but his greatest passion was history. He could often be found in front of a television watching the History Channel.

"He was a history buff," said his daughter. "There is not a book he didn't have, especially books about the Civil War."

She said his books -- including a Bible passed down for generations that is estimated to be 100 years old -- will be donated to the Maryland or Pennsylvania historical society.

Mr. Spangle also spent many hours volunteering at local nursing homes, transporting patients to doctor appointments. He was a member of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Towson.

A memorial service was held Wednesday at Kurtz Funeral Home in Jarrettsville.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a son, Joseph R. Spangle Jr. of Hamilton; three other daughters, Cindy M. Bollinger of Fallston, Karen V. Warmus of Warrenton, Va., and Nancy I. Kurrupis of Jacksonville; 14 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A marriage to the former Flora Welk of Towson ended in divorce in 1978.

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