Martin Kendall Dashields Jr., a Baltimore City firefighter known for his knowledge of Baltimore’s streets, died of a seizure after a stroke April 12 at Northwest Hospital Center. The Catonsville resident was 57.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Mount Olivet Lane, he was the son of Martin Kendall Dashields Sr., a Baltimore Transit Co. and Maryland Transit Administration vehicle driver, and his wife, Rebie Harris, a Chesapeake and Potomac telephone operator. He attended Edmondson High School and was a graduate of Southwestern High School. He earned a degree at Coppin State University.
“My husband was on his own since he was 18 years old,” said his wife, the former Audra Gray. “He always made his own living and was a hard worker.”
His cousin, Dale Stewart Smith, a resident of Raleigh, N.C., recalled that Mr. Dashields had a detailed knowledge of Baltimore streets and neighborhoods.
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“It was something that his parents made him learn — the difference between the north, east, south and west of Baltimore. We are a large, close-knit family and we live from Turners Station to Catonsville. He knew the streets and maybe he learned from his father, who drove buses,” said his cousin. “He could really navigate around Baltimore.”
As a young man he worked on a landscaping crew and drove commercial buses.
In 1998 he graduated from the Baltimore Fire Academy and joined the Baltimore City Fire Department.
“He was a stellar employee and was always very conscientious,” said Fire Department Captain Roman Clark. “I remember when he came on board as a paramedic and soon became an emergency vehicle driver.”
Mr. Dashields served at Truck 20 on Eastern Avenue at Anglesea Street in the Bayview section of Southeast Baltimore. He was a driver on a hook and ladder, who could operate either the front or the rear portion of the vehicle. Colleagues said he also fought fires and participated in search-and-rescue missions.
Lt. Gregory Cremeans, of Engine 20, recalled Mr. Dashields as being easygoing, outgoing and always a gentleman.
“On the job he was always professional,” said Lieutenant Cremeans. “He was very knowledgeable of the city and its streets, He was conscientious about getting the crew to the location of a fire and was a safe driver.”
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Known by his middle name Kendall, Mr. Dashields had a second job, a landscaping business he used to partially support his family. He owned a trailer and transported his riding mower to his customers. In the winter, he did snow plowing.
“Kendall was first and foremost a provider and a family man,” said his cousin, Dale Stewart Smith. “He was a gentle bear. I have never seen him angry or obnoxious or be anything but soft-spoken. When you saw him — he was the person you just met. He was not complicated. When he spoke, he was a firm talker.”
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His cousin said that Mr. Dashields enjoyed family social events and typically stood by his outdoor grill.
“He was definitely a grill master,” his cousin said. “He loved to entertain and cook. “He did it all — pork and beef — and fish too. He would say, ‘I like my hot grease.’” He made ribs, salmon, stuffed rockfish with crabmeat and a special version of hamburger.
Survivors include his wife of 21 years, a homemaker and former nursing home worker; a son, Martin Kendall Dashields III of Baltimore; two daughters, Kristen Miller and Kaitlin Miller, also of Baltimore; two stepsons, Paul Patrick and Jerome Gray, also of Baltimore; and a grandson, Deon Patrick.