Edwin William Balcer, 82, electrician and volunteer

May 15, 2006|By NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON | NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON,SUN REPORTER

Edwin William Balcer, a retired electrician, died of a heart attack Thursday at his home in the Graceland Park neighborhood of Baltimore. He was 82.

He grew up in Highlandtown and graduated from Patterson High School in 1941. As a teen, he earned extra money by painting window screens for family and neighbors. He also worked with his father, a cabinetmaker.

After training as an electrician, he landed a job at Bethlehem Steel. He remained with the company for 30 years and retired in the early 1980s. He was member of the United Steelworkers of America.

In 1957, he married Josepha Tseo, a nurse. She died in 1993.

During his summer vacations, Mr. Balcer spent much of his time outside, reading on the porch, tending to his garden and taking neighborhood kids on fishing trips.

One of those children was Tommy Beres.

"From the time I could climb a fence I was over in his yard, and we became best friends," said Mr. Beres, of Graceland Park. "He was a good-timer."

Mr. Beres said those fishing trips would often turn into teaching lessons when Mr. Balcer would talk politics, electrical wiring and the stock market.

"He was a well-rounded man, and that came from his love of reading," Mr. Beres said.

Mr. Balcer also loved to visit the casinos in Atlantic City, and he owned an original Players Card from 1977.

Among his other prized possessions was a white 1963 convertible Chevrolet Corvair. On special occasions, he would ride around town with the top down. He also owned a light green 1961 Corvair. In the mid-1980s he grudgingly gave up his '60s-era blue Chevrolet Impala for a later model.

"He did not like new cars. He didn't think they were any good," Mr. Beres said.

Mr. Balcer did all of the mechanical work on the cars himself.

In addition to working on old cars, he enjoyed watching amateur boxing, participating in poker night at monthly union meetings and dancing.

He volunteered for many years at the Ateaze Senior Center. In 2001, he met Betty Rappold at a dance class at the center. They dated for three years and married in 2004. Mr. Beres was Mr. Balcer's best man.

Mr. Balcer bonded easily with his wife's family. "He was a wonderful man with children," said Julie Sugar of Towson, Mrs. Balcer's daughter. "He had secret handshakes and was always joking around with them and making them laugh."

Mrs. Sugar said that the couple liked traveling, dinner dances and taking long drives in Mr. Balcer's vintage convertible. They honeymooned in Bermuda, went to Hawaii twice and took several Caribbean cruises.

"He really made her laugh for the years they were together," Mrs. Sugar said. "To discover love at that age - it was so nice."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Connelly Funeral Home, 7110 Sollers Point Road, Dundalk.

In addition to his wife, survivors include Mrs. Balcer's three daughters, one son, nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

nia.henderson@baltsun.com

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