Frederick R. Schwartz Jr., 78, Baltimore City firefighter

August 28, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Frederick Raymond Schwartz Jr., a retired Baltimore firefighter who rose to battalion commander and enjoyed building models of firefighting apparatus, died of lung cancer Aug. 21 at Northwest Hospital Center. The Owings Mills resident was 78.

Mr. Schwartz was born and raised in Lancaster, N.Y. He served as a yeoman in the Navy from 1946 to 1949 and earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Cornell University.

In 1953, he joined the city Fire Department and was assigned to Engine Company No. 43. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1961 and assigned to Engine Company No. 20, where he remained until 1970, when he became a captain at Truck Company No. 5.

In 1973, he was promoted to battalion chief and later was battalion commander of the department's 11th Battalion from 1982 until his 1993 retirement.

He had been given two department commendations, one in 1964 and the other in 1973, for rescuing trapped occupants from burning buildings.

Throughout his 40-year career, one of the most memorable fires he recalled fighting was the Tru-Fit Clothing Co. fire in 1955, which killed six firefighters when a wall and the roof collapsed.

"He said it was just horrible," said a son, Thomas J. Schwartz, a lieutenant with the Baltimore County Fire Department.

He was a member and past secretary of the Baltimore Fire Officers and Fire Fighters Association, Local 964. He was also a member of the Owings Mills Volunteer Fire Department.

"For years, he and his wife helped arrange Local 964's annual Christmas party, and he wrapped presents and played Santa Claus," his son said. "He would also take toys at Christmastime to children who were in the burn unit at City Hospital."

He was married for 49 years to the former Charlotte F. Menikheim, who died in 1998.

He was a member of American Legion Post 116 and VFW Post 521.

In his basement workshop, Mr. Schwartz built highly detailed 1:12 scale models of fire equipment. "He built pumpers, trucks and fireboats that included tiny ladders and even tools. He built more than a hundred models," his son said.

He was a communicant of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Glyndon, where a funeral Mass was offered Friday.

"He was buried in his uniform [but] believed that departmental funerals were only for those who fell in the line of duty," his son said. "So a car from Battalion 4 led the procession to the cemetery."

Also surviving are three other sons, Gerald R. Schwartz of West Chester, Pa., and Robert M. Schwartz and Edmund G. Schwartz, both of Hampstead; a daughter, Charlotte Ann Strakes of Owings Mills; two brothers, Edmund Schwartz of Cheektowaga, N.Y., and Robert Schwartz of Owings Mills; 16 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. Another son, Frederick R. Schwartz III, died in 1997.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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