- The Washington Times - Monday, October 1, 2001

A 78-year-old volunteer firefighter who died after helping clean up the damage caused by last Monday's tornado will be buried today as a local hero who died in the line of duty.
Clarence Kreitzer, who had been an active member of the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department since he was 15, was in College Park that night operating a mobile-lamp unit for emergency workers. When he returned to the Bowie firehouse on Superior Lane, he said he didn't feel well and telephoned his daughter to tell her he was on his way home.
"He [sounded] a little excited, and he didn't sound good," said his daughter Kimberly Bailey.
Mr. Kreitzer had a heart attack as he started driving home and his car hit a guardrail. His fellow firefighters heard the noise and raced to his side. They brought him back to the department and tried to revive him, but he died right there, at the fire station where he had spent most of his life, not more than three blocks from the house where he grew up.
Mrs. Bailey, 35, who lives in Crofton, Md., was reared single-handedly by her father from the time she was 2. The firehouse, she said, was virtually her father's life from the time he joined it in 1937.
Mr. Kreitzer, to whom close friends referred as "Cuz," went off to serve in the infantry in World War II, then returned home to become a Hyattsville police officer and later joined the Maryland National Capital Park Police, but he never left the volunteer fire department.
"I'm glad he worked till the end, and he would be surprised by how many people miss him and how much attention he's getting," Mrs. Bailey said.
John Clark, 60, one of five brothers who are Bowie volunteer firefighters, grew up with Mr. Kreitzer. He remembers him fondly as a mentor and a good friend.
"We were friends for 45 years, and Cuz taught us all the ropes, and kicked our butts when we screwed things up," Mr. Clark said.
"He joined the department in part because that was the only thing to do in Bowie back then, but also because he felt like the community needed him."
"I think it runs in the blood," said Dan Clark, 52.
Mr. Kreitzer's father was one of the founding members of the volunteer association, which was formed in 1928. Mr. Kreitzer fixed one of the first trucks used by the volunteers, his daughter said.
The Clark brothers have many stories about Mr. Kreitzer.
John Clark recalls the time in the 1960s when Mr. Kreitzer caught a cop killer. "I remember we got a call about a disturbance in the woods. Cuz and another guy went out and found a man injured; and while they were in the truck he confessed to killing a policeman. So they strapped him down and took him in."
Dan Clark said just about everything in the firehouse has Mr. Kreitzer's imprint.
"He did so much for this little town and then for the city when it got bigger, and he never looked for recognition. This city owes a whole lot to [Clarence] Kreitzer," John Clark said.
A memorial service was held for Mr. Kreitzer yesterday from 8 to 10 p.m. at the Robert E. Evans Funeral Home in Bowie. Funeral services will be held today at 10 a.m. at the same location.
Flowers are welcome, but the family urges that donations be made to the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or the Bowie Volunteer Fire Department.

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