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Joseph R. Raborg, fan of history and coins


Joseph R. Raborg, a coin collector and history buff, died Sunday of a heart attack at Meridian Healthcare Center at Franklin Woods in Essex. He was 80.

"He . . . had such an incredible knowledge of history that he could pick up a coin and tell you everything that happened that year along with what was happening with his family," said a grandson, Lou Raborg of Hamilton in Northeast Baltimore.

"If he could have gotten on 'Jeopardy,' he would have wiped them all out," the grandson said.

He said his grandfather "often talked about one of his earliest memories which concerned an uncle who had been gassed by the Germans during World War I. He had vivid recollections of the Great Depression and talked about the jobless selling apples on downtown street corners and the banks that failed, which gave him a lifelong suspicion of banks.

"Another story of his concerned the high walls surrounding St. Dominic's Roman Catholic School on Harford Road at Echodale," the grandson said. "He always said that the stone wall was built high in order to keep the cattle and sheep [that were occasionally herded along Harford Road] out of the schoolyard. . . ."

Mr. Raborg's ancestors, George William and Anna Raborg and their son Christopher, came to Philadelphia in 1750 from Hanover, Germany. In 1763, the family moved to Baltimore and George William Raborg worked as a coppersmith and tinsmith.

"The firms of C. Raborg and later C. Raborg & Sons, located on Water Street near Cheapside, were well-known and they supplied copper kettles and utensils to George Washington's army and to the Army during the War of 1812," the grandson said.

Mr. Raborg was born and reared on East Biddle Street. He left school in the eighth grade to help support his family.

In 1930, he joined The Baltimore Sun as a route carrier. In 1932, he went to work as a welder at Bethlehem Steel Corp.'s Sparrows Point plant, retiring in 1972.

Mr. Raborg resided for 30 years on Brook Avenue in Hamilton. At home, he grew roses and other flowers.

He was a member for many years of the American Numismatic Association.

His wife, the former Sue Marie Hamilton, whom he married in 1932, died in 1991.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 9 a.m. Thursday at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, 4420 Frankford Ave., Baltimore.

Other survivors include four sons, C. Louis Raborg Sr. of Abingdon, Robert Raborg of Gardenville, and Joseph R. Raborg Jr. and Donald Raborg, both of Overlea; three daughters, Mary Louise Walpole and Patricia Ann Kleiderlein, both of Overlea, and Virginia Sue Slaughter of Baltimore; 19 grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren.

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