BERGENFIELD, NJ — Just a week before he died, 90-year-old military and firefighting veteran Norman M. Schmelz of Bergenfield attended a centennnial celebration at his former Manhattan firehouse.
His son, Bergenfield Mayor Norman Schmelz, said he was thrilled at the respect his father got from the city fire commissioner, the FDNY chief and other firefighters.
“He was apart of the greatest generation ever. He loved the Navy,” Schmelz said.
The elder Schmelz, a U.S. Navy World War II and Korean War veteran, died on Oct. 9.
A funeral with full military honors is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church in Bergenfield, with interment in George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus.
Visiting hours are from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Monday, Oct. 12, at Riewerts Memorial Home in Bergenfield.
A native of Hell's Kitchen, Schmelz retired in 1976 from FDNY Ladder Co. 36 in the city's Inwood section after 23 years of service.
He met his wife, Rose, while they lived in the same apartment complex, then moved to Bergenfield together in late 1957.
Schmelz served for 25 years as Boy Scouts Cubmaster of Pack 180 and Scoutmaster of Troop 180.
He was a lifetime member of the Bergen Memorial Post #6467 Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans.
Schmelz was also known as the neighborhood handyman, whether it be for shoveling show, fixing plumbing or doing electrical work.
“He was still maintaining his house right until the very end,” Mayor Schmelz said. “He just got done fixing cracks in the patio. He took down the tree in the backyard.
"I used to tell him don’t get on any ladders - he never stops. He took care of all of us,” he said.
Schmelz had five children, and the family is planning military honors at his funeral service.
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