Charles W. "Chuck" Battenfeld Jr., a retired Canton Railroad Co. executive, died April 23 of heart failure at his Rodgers Forge home. He was 95.
His wife of 70 years, Mary Jeannette Battenfeld, a homemaker and an accomplished seamstress, died four days later of Alzheimer's disease at College Manor Nursing Home in Lutherville. She was 92.
The son of a carpet installer and a homemaker, Charles Wesley Battenfeld Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised in Govans.
After graduating in 1936 from City College, he began his 44-year railroad career working as a yard checker for the Canton Railroad Co., an industrial railroad that once operated 39 miles of track in Baltimore and Baltimore County.
"After graduating from high school, he began his career as a rookie railroad worker, took to it, and moved right through the ranks," said a son, Kurt L. Battenfeld of Phoenix, Baltimore County.
Mr. Battenfeld was eventually promoted to superintendent of operations, overseeing the movement of cars to the various industries that the railroad served as well as interchanges with the old Pennsylvania Railroad and the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad.
"I started out on Dec. 7, 1950, as a clerk in the yard office and Charley was yardmaster at the time, and we worked together," recalled George L. Brashears. "When he was named superintendent of operations in the 1960s, he asked me to be his assistant."
Mr. Brashears, who succeeded Mr. Battenfeld as superintendent of operations when he retired in 1980, said that Mr. Battenfeld was never "excitable" and easily handled the pressure of moving 650 to 700 cars in and out of the yard, especially when a shipload of iron ore arrived for nearby steel mills.
"He kept those loads coming and going. He was good at communicating with the B&O and Pennsylvania railroads and shippers. We had rapid turnover and he kept things moving," said Mr. Brashears. "Charlie was well-liked and got along with everyone. We never had any problems or arguments."
"He'd get calls at all hours and if there was a derailment, he had to go to work and make sure everything was straightened out," his son said.
His professional memberships included the American Association of Railroad Superintendents, American Short Line Railroad Association, Propeller Club of the United States, Propeller Club of the Port of Baltimore, and the Traffic Club of Baltimore.
The former Mary Jeannette Rayfield, who used her middle name, was born and raised in Baltimore and graduated in 1940 from Eastern High School. She worked briefly before her marriage in 1943.
The couple lived for years on Overbrook Road in Rodgers Forge, where they raised their three sons. In addition to sewing, Mrs. Battenfeld enjoyed organizing and attending family gatherings.
They were active members of the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Cedarcroft, where they were both communicants. Mr. Battenfeld was a former vestryman.
A fellow communicant, Don Hoatson, described Mr. Battenfeld in an email as being a "gentle soul."
"The same gentle soul who poignantly at the end of each service would take Jeannette back to the statue of Christ for private prayer," he wrote.
During Mrs. Battenfeld's decade-long struggle with Alzheimer's, she was cared for by her husband.
"Even when she was totally bedridden and not cognizant of those around her, her husband was her at-home caregiver until his strength wore out and he knew she was safe," said their son.
"Chuck and Jeannette were tied at the heart. They were happily married for 70 years and are now together forever," he said.
A memorial service for the couple will be held at 11 a.m. May 10 at their church, York and Cedarcroft roads.
In addition to their son, the couple is survived by two other sons, Charles W. Battenfeld III of Columbia and Rodney S. Battenfeld of Towson; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun