John D. Chetelat Sr., 84, Defense employee

December 03, 2004

John D. Chetelat Sr., a veteran of World War II and former Department of Defense employee, died of prostate cancer Monday at St. Agnes HealthCare. The Catonsville resident was 84.

As an infant, he was entered by his mother in a baby popularity contest sponsored by St. Peter's Church in Baltimore. He won, and an angel in his likeness was painted on an inside wall of the church, said his son Brian P. Chetelat of Wyman Park.

He attended the St. Joseph Monastery parochial school in the city and then St. Charles Seminary in Catonsville until 1939, when he decided not to enter the priesthood, his son said.

Mr. Chetelat was drafted into the Army in October 1941 and assigned to the 34th Infantry Division. He served in Northern Ireland, North Africa and Italy, and wrote letters to Baltimore friend and neighbor Gertrude A. "Peggy" Knight.

The pen pals kept in touch for more than two years during the war, and they married in July 1945, the son said.

As a civilian employee with the Department of Defense, he was an executive in the Directorate of Industrial Operations at Fort Holabird in Southeast Baltimore and at Fort Meade. He retired in 1985.

He and his wife loved barbershop harmony and sang in choruses in Catonsville in the 1960s and 1970s.

Mrs. Chetelat died in 1987, and a son, John D. Chetelat Jr., died in 2001.

In addition to his son in Wyman Park, Mr. Chetelat is survived by another son, Kevin Chetelat of Catonsville; and two grandchildren.

Services were held yesterday.

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