Earl Dean Fortney Sr., 76, steel engineer and foreman


Earl Dean Fortney Sr., a Bethlehem Steel engineer and foreman for more than 30 years, died Thursday at a nursing home in Bingamon, W.Va., of Parkinson's disease and diabetes. He was 76.

Before his retirement from Bethlehem Steel in 1974, Mr. Fortney worked at the Glenn L. Martin plant in Middle River, where he helped make war planes early in World War II. Later, Mr. Fortney served during the war with the Navy.

His daughter Jane Fortney of Catonsville said he often recalled memorable moments from the war, such as the capture of a German submarine and protecting a downed American plane from being captured in North Africa.

Born in Enterprise, W.Va., Mr. Fortney graduated from high school in Shinnston, W.Va., and later attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. At age 18, Mr. Fortney moved to Baltimore and a few years later married Jacqueline Litchel, who died in 1987. The couple had six children.

Mr. Fortney was legendary in his family for his great appetite and physical strength.

Recalling her days growing up on a farm in Joppa, Jane Fortney said: "My mother would cook one big chicken for him and one for the rest of us, a dozen ears of corn for him and some for us."

To entertain the family, Mr. Fortney -- known as "Stumpy" for his stocky build -- would sometimes lift the front of the family's 1954 Plymouth to show off his strength.

He enjoyed hunting, playing country music from the 1930s and 1940s on his mandolin, and painting watercolors. He was also involved in the Boy Scouts and coached Little League.

After his retirement from Bethlehem Steel, Mr. Fortney ran a slipcover and upholstery business from a home in Towson for about 10 years.

Mr. Fortney later married the former Pauline McIntire.

Services will be held at 1: 30 p.m. Monday at the Dorsey Funeral Home in Shinnston.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Fortney is survived by four sons, Richard Dean of Fairmont, W.Va., Donald Zane of Westminster, Andrew David of San Jose, Calif., and Earl Dean Jr., of Catonsville; a daughter, Wilma Anne of Westminster; and four grandchildren.

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