William H. Deitz

WILLIAM HARRY DEITZ was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on May 16, 1937 to Frank C. and Caroline Deitz. By June of 1917 the family had moved to 153 Maple Terrace in Merchantville NJ, the home of his paternal grandfather, also named William H. Deitz. Frank Dietz was then a cab driver for the Black & White Taxi Company in Philadelphia. When the Census was taken in 1920, young William Dietz and his mother were still living in Merchantville. By the time the 1924 Camden City Directory was compiled, William H. Deitz's mother had married a Camden fire fighter, George W. Attison. The family was then living at 314 Royden Street in Camden NJ.  

When the Census was taken in April of 1930, William H. Dietz, mother Caroline and step-father George Attison had moved to 511 Royden Street. George Addison was still a member of the Camden Fire Department then, and while his stepson William was at the time working as a cook's helper in a hotel kitchen, he would soon follow in his stepfather's footsteps. Among their neighbors was young William Bovell, who lived around the corner (or over the back fence, depending how you looked at it) on Clinton Street, who sadly would die in a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines during World War II. Another neighbor, Mary McClyment, who lived on Williams Street, would make front page headlines more than once in Camden newspapers during the 1930s. 

William H. Deitz became a member of the Camden Fire Department on May 16, 1937. Her served for the first 11 years of his career with Ladder Company 1. He was promoted to Captain and assigned to Engine Company 6 at 337 North Front Street in North Camden on April 8, 1948. During this time he served at Engine 6 with, among others Captain Harold Megee, and Fire Fighters John "Shorty" Prucella, Mario Fattore, Philip Farrow, Robert Dukes, Harrison Pike, Edwin Callahan, Thomas McParland, Thomas Winstanley, James Stewart, William Reed, and Howell S. Needham. The Deitz family was living at 4120 Westfield Avenue when the 1947 Camden City Directory was compiled.

On February 1, 1956 William H. Deitz was promoted to District Chief, the rough equivalent of today's Battalion Chief. The Deitz family remained East Camden residents in these years. Chief Deitz was active in the Rosedale Civic Association, the Rosedale Boy's Club and the East Camden Marauders, a youth sports organization. He was also a member of Audubon Lodge 318, Free & Accepted Masons.  

Chief Deitz suffered a fatal heart attack at the scene of a fire at 33 Terrace Avenue on November 14, 1962. Last a resident of 33 South 32nd Street in East Camden, he was buried at Bethel Cemetery in Pennsauken NJ. He was survived by his wife, Florence M. Deitz, son William, and daughters Dorothy and Roberta, as well as his mother and stepfather.


20 Firemen and Police Save Two Boys Marooned in River
Their Rowboat Stuck in Mud Flat, Brothers Frantically Cry for 'Help' Three Hours;
Rope Pulls Craft Ashore

Two small boys, brothers, were rescued after being marooned three hours in a rowboat on a mud flat in the Delaware east of Cooper river.

The rescue was effected by Camden police and firemen after the boys had frantically yelled for aid. Despite their long exposure, the boys were discovered to be in good physical condition when police took them to Cooper Hospital at sundown Saturday.

John Castor, Jr., 11, of 511 North Eighth street, and Thomas Castor, 8, of 1228 North Nineteenth street, ventured out into the Delaware river in a boat they found moored off Ninth street. The mother of the boys is dead and John lives with his father at the North Eighth street address and the other boy with his grandmother, Mrs. Teresa Mather, at the North Nineteenth street address.

The boys said they started to return to shore about 2.30 p. m. and did not notice the tide had gone out while they were in the boat. The boat stuck on a mud flat north of State street on the shore of the old airport. The boys were unable to budge the craft and called continuously for "help!"

About 5 p. m., they attracted the attention of Harrison McNeir, 14, of 822 Birch, who happened to be walking along an embankment. Young McNeir ran to State street and told Patrolman Thomas Carroll and Clarence Barnes, who were in a radio car, about the plight of the boys.

They sent an alarm to police headquarters. Police were unable to reach the boys and summoned the emergency crew of the Camden Fire Department. The firemen, using a rowboat, also were unable to reach the flat.

Finally, a long rope was tied to the waist of Fireman William Deitz and he waded out in hip boots to the marooned boat. He tied one end of the rope to the rowboat containing the boys and waded ashore. About 20 firemen and police grabbed the other end of the line and pulled the 
rowboat off the flat to shore.


M.F. Middleton Felled by Gas In House Here
Former City Commissioner Found Unconscious in Old Home

With gas flowing from a pipe detached from a gas range, former City Commissioner Melbourne F. Middleton, Jr., was found unconscious in the kitchen of his former home at 538 Cooper street early Saturday night.

Middleton was reported last night to still be in a critical condition at West Jersey Hospital, where he was taken. The Camden Fire Department First Aid Squad worked over him for an hour at the house in a vain effort to revive him.

Middleton, a former president of the Philadelphia Stock Exchange, and one time city councilman, was found by a son, C. Barry Middleton, and a friend, John Williams Rossell, who lives with the Middletons on Laurel road, Moorestown. Middleton was clad in overalls and two large pipe wrenches were lying on the kitchen floor near him.

Young Middleton said his father told his family he intended to take up some linoleum in the kitchen of his former home. Middleton first went to his office Saturday and then to St. Paul's Episcopal Church to a service. From there he was traced to his former home, which is owned by him.

When Middleton failed to return home for dinner at the usual time Saturday his son and Rossell decided to search for him. When young Middleton discovered his father's plight he notified police. Patrolmen Frank Cavallo, Henry Lutz, Walter Vecander and George Getley responded in radio cars and gave first aid until the fire department squad arrived.

The firemen worked on the former commissioner one hour with an inhalator before ordering his removal to the hospital, where they continued to work on Middleton for another hour but were unable to revive him. Hospital physicians continued working on him without success. They said his condition was critical.

Gas Man Called

At 4 p. m. Saturday the family living next to Middlemen's home telephoned Public Service that gas was coming from the house. Public Service sent a man to investi­gate but he was unable to get into the house.

Young Middleton and Rossell said they reached the house at 6.17 p. m.

While he was a member of the first city commission Middleton was director of finance but never missed responding to all alarms of fire. He was a member of the fire committee while serving in City Council as a member from the Second ward. In that capacity he also answered all alarms.

Members of the Firemen's First Aid Squad responding to the call were Deputy Chief William R. Harring, Hosemen Christopher Moll, William Spencer, Harry Haines, Russell Anderson, William Harry Deitz and Nelson Andrews.

City Detectives Benjamin Simon, Joseph Mardino and William Marter are investigating the cause.  

Engine 6 Wagon and Pumper at Front & Linden Streets
circa 1948

Left column, from left: Captain William Deitz, Firemen Robert Dukes
Harrison Pike, Mario Fattore, Edwin Callahan
Right column, from left: Firemen Thomas McParland, Philip Farrow
Thomas Winstanley, James Stewart, Ernest Tartaglia, John "Shorty" Prucella

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Engine 6 Wagon and Pumper at Front & Linden Streets
circa 1949

On apparatus John Prucella and Harrison Pike- Motor Pump Operators, l to r: Philip Farrow, Edwin Callahan, Thomas McParland, Robert Dukes, Captain William Deitz, Thomas Winstanley, James Stewart, Mario Fattore, and Ernest Tartaglia 

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Camden Courier-Post - June 1950

Camden Courier-Post - June 1950

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 July 18, 1960- An industrial accident with a fatality, at the Cooper River at Baird Avenue. A Front end loader flipped off embankment pinning the operator underwater. 

In the foreground without shirt: Battalion Chief William Deitz, 2nd Battalion, who first arrived at scene and attempted rescue of operator. Members of Rescue Company 1 are Fireman Edward Brendlinger (kneeling on the machine's wheel) and Firemen John Mogck Jr. and James McGrory in the boat. Battalion Chief Deitz would later be killed in the line of duty and Fireman John Mogck would become Chief of Department.

Camden Courier-Post
November 15, 1962

Camden Courier-Post - November 15, 1962

Chief Deitz Dies at City Fire Scene

Second District Fire Chief W. Harry Deitz, 52, a 25-year veteran in the Camden Fire Department, collapsed and died Wednesday night.

Chief Deitz was directing operations at the home of Mrs. Bernice Fox, 41`, at 33 Terrace Avenue, where a fire was burning in the cellar. The chief, who was inside, told Fore captain Thomas Winstanley he was in need of fresh air and walked outside.

There he spoke with Patrolman Douglas Tydeman about a car parked in front of a fire hydrant which had prevented hooking up a pumper. He collapsed and was placed in a police cart where he was given oxygen as he was rushed to Cooper Hospital. He was dead on arrival.

Coroner Creran ordered an autopsy today.

Chief Deitz was appointed to the fore department in 1937, and was made a captain in 1948 and district chief in 1955. Eligible for retirement since may, he planned to leave the department in January. He lived at 33 South 32nd Street.

Surviving are his wife, Florence; two daughters, Dorothy, a nurse at Cooper Hospital, and Mrs. Roberta Wagner of Camden; a son, William, at home; and his mother and stepfather, Mr. and Mrs. George Attison of Atlantic City.

At the fire, damage was confined to the basement. Mrs. Fox was on the second floor and her two children, Diane, 14, and Bert, 8, were on the first floor when the fire started. Bert ran upstairs and gave the alarm and Mrs. Fox called firemen.

Camden Courier-Post - November 16, 1962


Camden Fire Fighters Fallen in the Line of Duty