Clarence ‘Cuz’ Kreitzer‚ many also knew him as Chris‚ joined the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department as a Junior Member at 14 years old in 1937. His duties at that time were to clean the Fire House‚ pack hoses‚ and clean trucks for parades. He was not permitted to ride on any of the equipment until he was 16 years of age‚ then he could only ride on the hose beds.
His first ambulance trip was in early 1940 when another Junior Member was stricken with polio. The family tried to contact every ambulance in the county and the state police to transport their son‚ but no one would take the chance due to the thought that the disease was contagious. Cuz and another member volunteered to transport the patient. When they returned to the firehouse‚ they were requested to burn their clothes‚ fumigate the ambulance‚ and take special medicine. In 1941‚ Cuz became a driver of the pumper trucks when the senior members joined the Armed Forces.
In 1944‚ Clarence served in the U.S. Army and served with the 320th Infantry‚ 35th Division. He saw action in the European Campaign in France and Germany. He served with honor and distinction. He was honorably discharged in 1946.
Once he returned from the War‚ he attended several fire schools and specialized training. He won several awards and held many offices with the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department‚ including Vice President. He later became a Life Member and dedicated 64 years serving others as an active volunteer firefighter.
In addition‚ to serving as a volunteer firefighter‚ Clarence was a police officer with the Maryland National Park Police for approximately 22 years. He retired as Sergeant and was a distinguished Police Officer.
He was also a Member of the American Legion Post 66 in Bowie‚ with over 50 years of honored service.
On December 24‚ 1965‚ I was born. Cuz now had new challenges to face –fatherhood. Dad continued to serve and protect others while raising me on his own. He was a single parent. My mother walked out on us when I was about 9-months old. One can only imagine the stress he must have endured as well as all those sleepless nights. Nevertheless‚ he kept a positive attitude‚ always smiling and joking around. Most importantly‚ he was always there for me as a child as well as through my entire adulthood. He was a GREAT Dad! v Some of my fondest childhood memories were spending time at the firehouse with my Dad‚ which was quite often. The firefighters at Station 19 treated me like family. Dad especially loved working on the engines. He helped rebuild many of the older engines/pumpers that are now classical pieces. He often drove the equipment in parades.
Dad enjoyed rebuilding/refurbishing cars too. He liked muscle cars with a lot of torque. One of his favorite pastimes was NASCAR racing. He also enjoyed duckpin bowling and was in many duckpin leagues. He taught me to rebuild cars and we often bowled together‚ usually on the same team.
During the summer months‚ Dad and I did a lot of traveling. He enjoyed exploring new sites. We had no itinerary. He and I would jump in the car and off we went to our new adventure. Our destination depended on how tired he was from driving. We simply had wonderful times together.
It took the passing of my father to realize what a Hero he truly was to me‚ and to many others. We often take our parent’s love for granted‚ not realizing the pressures and worry they go through. I always knew my father sacrificed a lot for me‚ I just didn’t realize how much. I look back now and wonder how he did it all – dedicated father‚ devoted firefighter‚ honorable police officer‚ friend to many‚ and a caring son. He was a man who wore many hats.
Later in life‚ Dad discovered another new challenge–being a grandparent. He was blessed with three grandchildren–Christopher‚ Allison‚ and Matthew. He adored and loved them dearly. As with me‚ Dad was always there for his grandchildren as well. He never stopped giving.
At the age of 78‚ Clarence Kreitzer‚ the oldest firefighter in Maryland‚ made his last call on September 24‚ 2001‚ after assisting at the tornado scene in College Park‚ Maryland.
I miss him dearly. Kim Kreitzer-Bailey Loving Daughter