Charles Milton Rutkowski Sr., a former manager for Delivery of Baltimore and Lord Baltimore Laundry and Cleaners, died Thursday of complications from congestive heart failure at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center. He was 85.
Born and raised in Baltimore, he attended City College for two years before leaving to work at Delivery of Baltimore, which delivered department store purchases to customers' homes.
"Everybody liked him," said his wife of 63 years, the former Virginia Mullaney. "He had a good personality. He could tell stories very well."
His daughter Kathleen Scott of Baldwin said that he was drafted in September 1942 and became a member of the 8th Division 28th Infantry Regiment. Mr. Rutkowski was captured and held as a prisoner of war for about 30 days during the Battle for Brest. His service ended Oct. 23, 1945.
Mr. Rutkowski returned to Delivery of Baltimore after the war. In the mid-1950s, he also started an income tax business. Through word of mouth, he developed a clientele of about 200 people.
"He was something," Ms. Scott said. "He's leaving a big void."
After working his way from delivery driver to manager, he left Delivery of Baltimore and became a manager for Lord Baltimore Laundry and Cleaners.
He stayed there for about a decade before retiring in the mid-1980s.
Ms. Scott remembers her father showing her the basics of gardening when she was age 5. Over the years, he maintained a garden that included tomatoes and pumpkins.
"Whatever I wanted to do, he encouraged me," she said.
Mr. Rutkowski was an avid reader of World War II history. His brother, William Rutkowski of Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., considered him an expert on the war - not just because he fought in it but also because of the wealth of knowledge he obtained through reading. He amassed a collection of World War II artifacts that included pistols, rifles and helmets.
"He had great recall and a great ability to tell the story," said his brother, who helped write his brother's memoir.
Mr. Rutkowski never shied away from talking about his experiences as a prisoner of war and joined the Maryland chapter of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Organization. He also spoke at schools about his wartime experiences.
A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Tuesday at Lassahn Funeral Home, 7401 Belair Road.
Mr. Rutkowski also is survived by two sons, Charles Rutkowski Jr. and Edward Rutkowski, both of Baltimore; another daughter, Patrice Lohmuller of Baltimore; seven grandchildren; and one great-grandson.