Harry E. Klages, a World War II pilot who owned Cathell Bros. & Co. Inc. and was a longtime volunteer with the Friends of Jerusalem Mill, died Monday at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center of complications from a fall. He was 93.
The son of Harry E. Klages, a Chesapeake Bay pilot, and Lillian Seth Klages, a homemaker, Harry Ernest Klages was born in Baltimore.
When he was 8 months old, his mother died, and his father turned him over to an uncle and aunt who raised him in the city's Mayfield neighborhood and also at another home on the Magothy River.
Mr. Klages was a 1939 graduate of City College and in 1942, he enlisted in the Army Air Forces. Trained as a P-51 Mustang pilot, he began flying reconnaissance missions over Europe in 1944.
"He missed D-Day because he was having his tonsils removed in England but started flying two weeks later," said Harry Sanders, a stepson-in-law who lives in Kingsville. "He flew nearly every day and completed many missions."
After the war ended, Mr. Klages remained in the Air Force Reserves, where he attained the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Mr. Klages returned to Baltimore when World War II ended. He took over Cathell Bros. & Co. Inc., a family-owned steel fabricating plant that was founded in the 19th century at Fort Avenue and Lawrence Street in Locust Point.
He married Ellen Cook Schupper in 1964.
"He had a crush on Ellen Cook Schupper when he was a young man. ... She was 20 and he was 18, but she ended up marrying someone else, and he remained a bachelor," said Mr. Sanders.
After her husband's death in 1962, Mr. Klages rekindled the relationship that culminated in the couple's marriage.
In 1973, the longtime Timonium resident sold the business and with his wife moved to Kent Island. After earning his real estate license, he went to work for Long & Foster in the company's Stevensville office.
"Harry was a lovely person and he will definitely be missed by all those who had the blessing of knowing him. He always had an encouraging word and took the time to listen to them," said Elinor W. Warring, manager of Long & Foster's Kent Island office.
"He liked helping people and real estate was an extension of that. He liked helping people move in or out, and finding them homes," said Ms. Warring.
While living on Kent Island, Mr. Klages and his wife were active members of Kent Island United Methodist Church. After moving to Kingsville in 2005 to be closer to his wife's daughter, they joined Salem United Methodist Church.
Mr. Klages was a member and volunteer with the Friends of Jerusalem Mill, which restored the historic three-story Jerusalem Mill, a grist mill that was built on the banks of Little Gunpowder Falls in 1772, and the surrounding Quaker village.
The flour mill was constructed by two Bucks County, Pa., Quakers, Isaiah Linton, a millwright, and David Lee, a miller, and operated continuously until 1961.
"Harry volunteered at the mill and village until the Saturday before he died," said Mr. Sanders.
"Harry was very faithful, helpful and a great resource and volunteer. Also, he lived close by to the museum," said Chris Scovill, the museum's curator.
"Museums such as ours appeal to an older demographic and he could easily talk with his peers. He was a very popular and personable guide," said Mr. Scovill.
"We're open Saturdays and Sundays, and Harry always volunteered on Saturdays, but knowing our needs, often came on Sundays," said Mr. Scovill. "He didn't flout that he'd been a World War II fighter pilot, but if people asked him questions about it, he'd readily respond."
Mr. Klages had been an active member of the South Baltimore Kiwanis Club.
Mr. Klages enjoyed traveling by train to the Pacific Northwest, family members said.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Salem United Methodist Church, 7903 Bradshaw Road, Upper Falls.
Mr. Klages is survived by his stepdaughter, Carol Sanders of Kingsville; and two nieces. His wife died in 2011.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun