Robert E. Spangenberg

Robert E. Spangenberg

Submitted by his Daughter

Robert Edwin Spangenberg was my father; he died on February 27‚ 1983. He was a good and honest man who enjoyed reading‚ especially science and history books; he also enjoyed mathematics and used both a calculator and slide rule. He was a World War II veteran of the United States Navy. A destroyer escort‚ the USS Spangenberg DE 223‚ was named for Dad’s brother Kenneth‚ who died in the war. Dad and Kenneth were very close and I believe that‚ until the day of his death‚ Dad mourned Kenneth.

In 1947 my father married Catherine Helen Tomaschik. My parents would have celebrated their 36th wedding anniversary on June 29th‚ 1983.

Dad had been a member of the Allentown (PA) Fire Department for 33 years at the time of his death. Although many young boys want to grow up to be firefighters‚ my father always wanted to work on the railroad. When my sister Cathy and I were children‚ at Christmas he set up trains around the Christmas tree.

On February 11‚ 1983‚ during a blizzard‚ my father’s fire truck‚ Allentown’s Engine #6 responded to a fire in a neighborhood where he had lived for two decades. Because of the extreme weather conditions and blocked roads‚ Dad and his partner were the only ones at the scene initially and Dad was fighting the fire alone. We were told that my father carried out an elderly resident who lived in a building next to the fire. After help arrived‚ my father collapsed in the burning building. He had suffered a heart attack and was in v-fib for several minutes while paramedics worked on him at the scene. Dad was taken to the Sacred Heart hospital in Allentown where he was on life support for almost two weeks; he never regained consciousness. We discontinued life support when it became obvious that Dad’s condition was deteriorating; he died early in the morning of February 27‚ 1983.

Unfortunately‚ my father died in a fire that was arson. Neighbors at the fire scene told us that my father was aware that the fire was arson because it was started in several places. They also told us that my father had been in the building looking for the person who probably set the fire because they had told Dad that they had seen that person go into the building earlier‚ but not come out. The arsonist was identified‚ but the city of Allentown never took any action against him; those upon whom my father depended to defend his life and investigate his death failed him.