The voice of William C. Schultheis echoed off stone walls and clapboard Dickeyville homes on July 4th mornings. He spoke through a bullhorn as he led his neighborhood's annual history walk along nearly forgotten mill sites, abandoned streetcar lines and a jail. His audience offered no objections when the history lesson lasted two hours.
The retired Baltimore teacher died of lung cancer Wednesday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. He was 70.
Born and raised in Frostburg, he was a Beall High School graduate. He served in the Marines and then earned a bachelor's degree in 1961 at the University of Maryland College Park. In 1968, he earned a master's degree in liberal arts from the Johns Hopkins University.
In 1964, after teaching for several years in Anne Arundel public schools, Mr. Schultheis began three decades of teaching in the Baltimore school system. In 1965, while teaching at Canton Junior High, he began dating one of his colleagues, Patricia Podufaly. They married the next year.
Mr. Schultheis was a 1979 Fulbright Exchange Teacher in a U.S.-Israel exchange program, a consultant for the National Science Foundation Project "You, Me and Technology," and a member of a curriculum task force for the National History Standards Committee.
He spent most of his teaching career as chairman of the social studies department at Lake Clifton High School. He was an adjunct faculty member at Ner Israel Rabbinical College from 1981 to 1996.
After he retired from the city schools, he was an adjunct professor of history at Anne Arundel Community College.
"My father was the quintessential teacher. He was a voracious reader, reading at least a book a week. He enjoyed imparting ... his vast knowledge of history to his students," said his son Kurt Schultheis of Severna Park. "He simply enjoyed teaching. He also taught by example and his principles, which were premised on his sense of tremendous loyalty and dedication to his family."
After raising a family in Mount Washington, the Schultheises responded to a 1993 newspaper ad for a home for sale in Dickeyville. He and his wife wanted a house with a patio, French doors and a fireplace.
He soon became interested in the former mill village's history and wrote a scholarly essay on the four Wethered brothers, who owned a wool mill in Dickeyville and whose name is commemorated in Wetheredsville Road. The article, which detailed the brothers' work with steam boilers used in navigation, went on to win the 2006 Maryland Historical Society's Marion Brewington Prize.
"He was a fabulous historian who wanted the truth and the facts," said Feather Davis, a neighbor and community archivist. "He believed in the primary sources of history and had a list of favorite myths that got perpetuated about Dickeyville."
She recalled that Mr. Schultheis would go on long walks with a sketch pad and make diagrams of old foundations of vanished 19th-century industries in the Gwynns Falls watershed.
Mr. Schultheis also assisted his wife with her 2007 book Baltimore's Lexington Market.
"When Bill gave a talk about Dickeyville, it was astonishing how well attended it would be," his wife said.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Dickey Memorial Presbyterian Church, 5112 Wetheredsville Road..
In addition to his wife and son, he is survived by another son, Matthew Schultheis of York, Pa; two brothers, John Schultheis of Columbia Crossroads, Pa. and Henry Schultheis of Sarasota, Fla.; and five grandsons.