George W. Schucker, 92, official with Baltimore Health Department

February 07, 2005|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

George W. Schucker, who spent a 37-year career in the Baltimore City Health Department and retired as an assistant commissioner, died Jan. 30 of natural causes at Mariner Health of Catonsville. He was 92 and had lived in Ellicott City.

Mr. Schucker was instrumental in helping battle lead-paint poisoning and air pollution while initiating a strategy to control a growing rat population.

In the fight against rodents, Mr. Schucker publicly criticized then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer in 1974, prompting Mr. Schaefer to strip him of his duties directing the city's war on rats, which he had started five years earlier.

Mr. Schucker resisted efforts by the mayor's office to change the rat program's emphasis from methodical eradication to answering constituents' complaints, according to an Evening Sun account. He also complained that manpower was reduced in the rat control program.

"He disagreed with the mayor on that issue," said his nephew, Robert Wheeler of Finksburg. "My uncle was a professional civil and sanitary engineer who did what he thought was right. ... He wasn't a politician."

A year after his disagreement with the mayor, Mr. Schucker retired.

Mr. Schucker was considered an expert on public health issues. He received an award from the American Water Works Association for a study of salmonella in a Baltimore nursing home and he co-wrote a textbook, The Practice of Sanitation.

Mr. Schucker, who was born in Gap, Pa., was a graduate of Polytechnic Institute. He earned a degree in civil and sanitary engineering at the Johns Hopkins University.

He started to work for the city in 1937, when he was appointed chief of the Division of Community Sanitation. He rose to other positions, including director of the Bureau of Environmental Hygiene, and assistant commissioner of health and director of Sanitary Services, from which he retired.

Mr. Schucker took a leave from his municipal job to join the Army during World War II. He served in North Africa, directing water supply to Allied troops, and held similar responsibilities during the Sicilian and Italian campaigns.

He retired from the Army Reserve in 1972 as a lieutenant colonel.

Dr. Robert E. Farber, a former commissioner of health for Baltimore, wrote in a July 19, 1974, weekly open letter to the mayor that "Schucker's work has been recognized locally and nationally for his efforts in the sanitary sciences."

Dr. Farber credited Mr. Schucker with implementing innovations in city housing and health programs including child lead-paint poisoning, air pollution, rodent control and sanitary enforcement.

He was a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Engineering Society of Baltimore, American Public Health Association and National Environmental Health Association. Mr. Schucker also lectured at the University of Maryland and at Hopkins.

Services were held Wednesday.

In addition to his nephew, survivors include his wife of 64 years, Glenna Lucille Rohde Schucker; and two sons, Wayne Schucker of Tampa, Fla., and William Schucker of Washington. Another son, Richard Schucker, died in 1999.

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