Ralph E. Ford Sr. was Baltimore harbor...


Ralph E. Ford Sr. was Baltimore harbor captain

Services for Ralph E. Ford Sr., a Baltimore harbor captain known along the waterfront since the 1940s, will be held 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Crownsville Veterans Cemetery, 1080 Sunrise Beach Road in Anne Arundel County.

Known to all who met him as "Captain Ralph," he died of heart failure early Monday in his home at the Baltimore Yacht Basin marina near the Hanover Street Bridge. He was 81.

Born in the river town of Portsmouth, Ohio, Captain Ford moved to Baltimore before World War II and pursued his love of the water by joining the Coast Guard. After Pearl Harbor, he joined the Army and saw combat on Guadalcanal with the Army's 37th Division. During the war, he also was held prisoner by the Japanese and was present on the deck of the USS Missouri when Japan surrendered to the Allied forces.

"It wasn't too bad. I seen a lotta people get killed. But we was young then," Captain Ford said in a 1982 newspaper interview.

Returning home with his discharge and a Purple Heart, he established a harbor work yard along Pratt Street that performed all types of maritime work, including ferrying supplies and sailors back and forth from land to ships at anchor.

As development overtook his boat yard, Captain Ford moved from pier to pier on Pratt Street before he settled on Boston Street in the early 1970s. His last move, about 10 years ago, was on the southern peninsula of the city to the Baltimore Yacht Basin marina on the Middle Branch of the Patapsco.

A collector of almost any old boat, Captain Ford was particularly fond of wooden vessels and owned several at the time of his death, among them "The Baltimorean," the city's former yacht once known as the "William Donald Schaefer."

Captain Ford, a staunch Democrat and longtime member of South Baltimore's Stonewall Democratic Club, bought the 1950s-era wooden boat at public auction after Kurt L. Schmoke became mayor.

He is survived by his father, John Ford of Portsmouth, Ohio; a daughter, Mary Ann Ford of Baltimore; a son, Ralph E. Ford Jr. of Baltimore; a brother, Tommy Ford of Portsmouth; a sister, Emmalou Ford, also of Portsmouth; two grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

His wife, the former Leona C. Newman, died in 1987.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the American Heart Association, 415 N. Charles St., Baltimore 21202. Services for Stephen J. Van Lill 3rd, a Baltimore physician for more than 40 years, will be held at 9 a.m. tomorrow in Mitschner Memorial Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Dr. Van Lill died Thursday of cancer at the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis. He was 76.

Since the end of World War II, during which he served in the U.S. Coast Guard, until his retirement in 1987, Dr. Van Lill practiced internal medicine in Baltimore.

Dr. Van Lill retired to his family's home along Weems Creek in Annapolis, where he participated in a hospitality program for out-of-state midshipmen at the Naval Academy.

A life member of the Annapolis Yacht Club, Dr. Van Lill also belonged to Phi Delta Phi fraternity.

Dr. Van Lill earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University and graduated from the University of Maryland medical school. He is survived by several cousins.

The family has suggested memorial contributions to the Catholic Chapel Fund, U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, 21402.

Sister Mary Theodora

Teacher, principal

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered for Sister Mary Theodora VanBemmel, SSND, who retired from teaching at the former Church of St. Michael's school and was principal of the former Church of the Blessed Sacrament school, at 10 a.m. Monday in the Provincial Motherhouse Chapel in Wilton, Conn.

Sister Theodora died Thursday at Norwalk Hospital in Norwalk, Conn., of heart failure. She was 82.

Sister Theodora, who took her vows in 1933, began her teaching career at St. Michael's School on Wolfe Street and returned to Baltimore -- after teaching for three Catholic schools in New Jersey and New York -- as an eighth-grade teacher, principal and sister superior at the Blessed Sacrament School during the late 1940s and early 1950s.

In 1957, she moved to Connecticut and was named provincial councilor and treasurer of the Wilton Province of School Sisters of Notre Dame. She remained in the latter job until August 1991, and was among the leaders directing construction of the motherhouse.

Sister Theodora, a native of West New York, N.J., was the oldest of 10 siblings. She received her bachelor of arts degree from Seton Hall University and later conducted graduate studies at both Fordham University and Manhattan College.

She is survived by three brothers, Frank VanBemmel of Fort Lee, N.J., John VanBemmel of San Francisco, and Theodore VanBemmel of Stony Point, N.Y.; and four sisters, Eleanor Heyboer of Englewood, N.J., Kathleen Rooney of Brick, N.J., Marie Weber of Midfield, Mass., and Eileen Hyams of Spartanburg, S.C.

The family has suggested memorial contributions to the SSND Development Fund, Wilton, Conn. 06897.

Janet D. Smith

Flower show judge

Janet D. Smith, whose interest in gardening and flower arranging led to her becoming a flower show judge, died Tuesday of cancer at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Services for Mrs. Smith, who lived on Fox Chapel Road in Lutherville, were held Friday at the Ruck Towson Funeral Home. She was 77.

The former Janet Doncaster Van Cott was a native of Albany, N.Y., and attended Albany State College. She moved to the Baltimore area in 1962 when her husband, Wilbur G. Smith, now retired, was named general manager of the Bethlehem Steel Corp. plant at Sparrows Point.

She was a member of the Halton Garden Club and a judge of flower arrangements.

A golfer and a member of the Baltimore Country Club, she also was a member of the Buffalo, N.Y., chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In addition to her husband, her survivors include a daughter, Carole S. Augenstein of Columbus, Ohio; a son, Craig W. Smith of Suffield, Conn.; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Dorothy M. Nadolny


Dorothy Mae Nadolny, who kept the books for trucking businesses owned by her husband and a son, died Tuesday of cancer at her home in Church Hill, Queen Anne's County.

Services for Mrs. Nadolny, who was 64, were held Friday at the Church Hill United Methodist Church.

The former Dorothy Mae Borgman was a native of Cumberland who moved to Dundalk as a child and attended Kenwood High School.

She moved to the Eastern Shore after her marriage to Joseph Eugene Nadolny in 1947. They settled first in Kennedyville.

In addition to her husband, her survivors include two sons, Joseph E. Nadolny Jr. of Barclay and John M. Nadolny of Chestertown; two daughters, Linda Nadolny-Clough of Barclay and Lori Ann Loughry of Chestertown; a brother, John H. Borgman Jr. of Baltimore; a sister, Rosalie E. Borgman of Church Hill; and four grandchildren.

Walter Lee Bush Sr.

Bethlehem Steel worker

Walter Lee Bush Sr., retired superintendent of the rigging department at the Bethlehem Steel Corp. shipyard at Sparrows Point, died Tuesday at his home in Gloucester Point, Va., after a heart attack.

Graveside services for Mr. Bush, who was 73, were held Friday at the Gardens of Faith Cemetery in Overlea.

The Baltimore native worked at the shipyard for many years before his retirement in 1979.

He was a member of Hiss United Methodist Church, Corinthian Lodge of the Masons, Scottish Rite and Baltimore Forest of the Tall Cedars of Lebanon before moving from Parkville to Virginia after his retirement.

He is survived by his wife, the former Mary G. Maidich; a daughter, Mary Jane Regina Bush of Bucksport, Maine; two sons, Walter Lee Bush Jr. and Charles Thomas Bush, both of Hayes, Va.; two sisters, Edith Bush Gail and Evelyn Bush McLean, both of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.


Deborah Houston

Claims specialist

Deborah A. Houston, a retired foreign claims specialist for the Social Security Administration, died Feb. 29 at St. Agnes Hospital after a stroke.

Services for Mrs. Houston, 49, were held Friday at the Whitestone Baptist Church.

The resident of Collinsway Road in Catonsville retired in 1988. She had worked for the Social Security Administration for 25 years.

The former Deborah A. Watkins was a native of Baltimore who attended the Community College of Baltimore after her graduation from Douglass High School.

She is survived by her husband, Alvin J. Houston; a son, Kevin J. Houston of Catonsville; and her mother, Sarah G. Sharp of Woodlawn.

LeRoy E. Swain

Roofing estimator

LeRoy E. Swain, a retired estimator for a roofing company-- who had operated his own home-improvement business, died Wednesday of heart failure at the Anne Arundel Medical Center.

Services for Mr. Swain, 96, were held Friday at the Hubbard Funeral Home.

He lived in Edgewater. He retired about 30 years ago as an estimator for Phillips Roofers.

Earlier, he had a home-improvement business in the Catonsville area.

After his retirement, he worked part time as a clerk in hardware stores in West Baltimore and in Lansdowne.

The Baltimore native served in the Army during World War I.

His wife, the former Ruth Hammer, died in 1980.

He is survived by a daughter, Dorothy Jean Byrd of Glen Burnie; three sons, LeRoy Clifford Swain of Gaithersburg, James Wilmer Swain of Catonsville and Allen Ernest Swain of Key Largo, Fla.; a sister, Adele Hoyt of Riverton, N.J.; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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