When she was 6 or 7 and her brother George was probably 10, Patty Schwartz heard engines responding to a fire around the corner from their home in Northeast Philadelphia.

"My brother went running down to see the fire," and ran back, she said, "to tell us all not to worry. 'Dad's on the roof.' "

Their father was George H. Schwartz, a firefighter with Ladder Five, whose job was sometimes to break through roofs to vent a fire.

The day, as her brother predicted, went well.

On Monday, Nov. 14, Mr. Schwartz, 92, of Absecon, N.J., who retired in 1974 after 24 years as a Philadelphia firefighter, died at Shore Medical Center in Somers Point, N.J.

Born in Philadelphia, he enlisted in the World War II military as soon as he graduated from high school and served as an Army engineer from 1942 to 1945, in combat in North Africa and Europe.

He returned to the city, graduated from the Philadelphia Fire Academy in 1950, served on Ladder 5, and retired from Engine 64 in Lawndale, in the year he turned 50.

"At Ladder 5, he was the tiller man and quite proud of it," his daughter said, because the job had its risks.

"He's the guy that rides on the back end" of a long ladder engine, she said, and steers it around sometimes risky corners.

Being a firefighter, she said, "was his life's dream, from when he was a child."

Mr. Schwartz did not give up firefighting when he retired in Philadelphia.

He moved his family to Wellsboro, Tioga County, where he worked as a state forest fire warden, helping cover what is known as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania.

"In the fall he could be in an airplane," she said, searching with the pilot "for any forest fire deep in the woods."

And in summers, she said, "he was in charge of a youth conservation group," which among other work cleaned up forest roads.

Before retiring after a 10-year stint as a fire warden in 1987, his daughter said, he remodeled their 100-year-old farmhouse in Wellsboro.

He and his wife, Elizabeth, returned to South Jersey, living in Northfield from 1987 to 1995 and since then in Absecon.

Besides traveling with his wife to Germany and Ireland, he entertained family by making decorative wooden sleighs for Christmas.

He was a member of the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the League of the Sacred Heart of Jesus since the 1950s, and the St. Bernadette Senior Citizens Club in his Northfield days.

Besides his daughter, Mr. Schwartz is survived by son George M., daughters Eileen Foster and Elizabeth Bernal, and seven grandchildren. His wife died in 2004.

A viewing was set from 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Church of the Assumption, 146 S. Pitney Rd., Galloway, N.J., before a 10 a.m. Funeral Mass there.

Donations may be sent to the Widows' Fund, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22, 415 N. Fifth St., Philadelphia 19123-4095.

Condolences may be offered to the family at wimbergfuneralhome.com.


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