Francis R. Rahl, 90, dies

Freight conductor for the old Pennsylvania Railroad

May 03, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Francis R. Rahl Sr., a retired railroader who enjoyed spending his retirement years on Maryland's Eastern Shore, died Saturday of lung cancer at his son's Union Square home. He was 90.

Mr. Rahl, the son of an electro-nickel plater and a homemaker, was born and raised in Greensburg, Pa. After graduating from Greensburg High School in 1937, he worked as an orderly at Greensburg Hospital and later at the Robertshaw Thermostat in Youngwood, Pa.

He enlisted in the Army in 1942 and served as an operating room medic in a military hospital at Fort Wayne, Ind., until being discharged in 1946.

That year, Mr. Rahl began his railroading career when he went to work as a brakeman for the old Pennsylvania Railroad at the company's Youngwood yard, near Pittsburgh.

Eventually promoted to freight conductor, Mr. Rahl continued working out of Youngwood until retiring in 1980 from Conrail, successor company to the Pennsylvania Railroad.

In his retirement, Mr. Rahl and his wife, the former Mary Lou McCartney, whom he married in 1942, settled into a home near Chance in Somerset County.

"He loved the Eastern Shore, and they enjoyed everything the bay had to offer from boating, bird-watching and fishing to oyster harvesting," said his son, Francis R. Rahl Jr., a longtime Union Square neighborhood activist.

The couple later briefly lived in Cocoa, Fla., before moving to White Marsh in 1995, where Mr. Rahl cared for his bed-ridden wife until her death in 2004.

Mr. Rahl was an accomplished model builder who enjoyed building highly detailed models of sailing boats and buildings.

"He could build anything with his hands. His home in Youngwood was completely self-built with hand tools, from the hole in the ground to the roof," his son said. "He even worked part-time at a concrete factory where he was paid with the blocks he used to build the foundation."

Services are private.

Also surviving are a sister, Betty Jean Blaine of Connellsville, Pa.; two grandsons; and two great-grandchildren.

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