Charles G. Trautwein Sr., 97, oil burner mechanic


Charles G. Trautwein Sr., a retired oil burner mechanic and collector who saved all of his pay envelopes during his 60 working years, died of sepsis April 18 at Genesis Health Care Hamilton Center. He was 97 and spent nearly his entire life in Lauraville.

He was born in a family farmhouse on Ailsa Avenue in what was then Baltimore County and is now a Northeast Baltimore neighborhood. His grandfather, German immigrant George Sack, had a farm, as well as a hardware and lumber business.

The family once owned more than 50 acres near Cold Spring Lane and Harford Road, and as a young man, Mr. Trautwein watched as streets were cut through the family land and houses built.

Mr. Trautwein attended Polytechnic Institute - leaving in his senior year when he found he could not handle calculus - and joined the research and development section of Anchor Post Co. in Highlandtown, which also had an oil furnace division.

Family members said he was fascinated by the new technology of the rotary oil burner, which was replacing coal furnaces for home heating. But because most homes still used coal, he also was a mechanic for the automatic stoking devices that fed the fuel into furnaces.

Mr. Trautwein remained in his grandfather's home for most of his life. Staying in one place made it easier for Mr. Trautwein to retain all of his financial records, including the envelopes from his paid-in-cash salary. He also stored many oil-burner parts.

"Someone could make an original rotary burner out of what he had," said his son, the Rev. John V. "Jack" Trautwein, a Lutheran minister who lives in the Lauraville home.

The elder Mr. Trautwein went to work for about $17 a week in 1926 at Anchor Post. He was later a service manager for Pen-Mar Co., J.B. Wailes Fuel and Heating Co., Wilcox and Ziegler, Enterprise Fuel, and Harry T. Sparks Plumbing and Heating Co.

"During his long career, he developed safety controls for heating systems," his son said. "He was one of the most respected local oil burner authorities."

Among his many clients were the old Pilgrim Laundry in South Baltimore, Neild's Cleaners in Charles Village, the College of Notre Dame of Maryland and numerous Roman Catholic parishes.

In 1985, in one of his last projects, Mr. Trautwein helped install a computerized heating system for Children's Hospital.

After the 1986 death of his wife of nearly 60 years, the former Edna M. Kaline, Mr. Trautwein retired but began a second career helping his son who, in addition to his church work, owned a gift and Christmas wares store, P.J.'s Place, in Fells Point. Customers called him Dad when he worked at the Lancaster Street shop.

"He was a natural salesman," the son said. "He would take people into the Christmas room, and they would stay for an hour."

In his free time, Mr. Trautwein grew vegetables and flowers in his Lauraville garden.

Services were held Saturday.

Survivors also include another son, Charles G. Trautwein Jr. of Oakland in Garrett County; two grandsons; three step-grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

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