LINE OF DUTY DEATHS
In Memory Of Our Members Who Have Died In The Line Of Duty
JOSEPH R. WALTO
Wildwood Fire Company # 1
December 25, 1943
Ocean Pier Fire -
Dec. 25, 1943
Joseph Walto was born on March 13, 1881. He died on Christmas Day in 1943 at the age of 62, while fighting a disastrous fire. Lt. Walto worked as a driver for the Five Mile Electric Trolley Car Company and later worked for Atlantic City Electric where his duties included manually turning on the island's street lamps. He was later a supervisor of electric repairman until the fatal fire.
Lt. Walto was stricken at the fire scene and was transported to Dr. Maggie Mace's Hospital in North Wildwood. Dr. Mace summoned Walto's family to his side. Lt. Joseph R. Walto, a 27 year firefighting volunteer died two hours after being stricken. His son, Army Staff Sgt. Joseph John Walto, learned of his father's death while he was preparing for the allied assault on Anzio Beach, Italy, in World War II.
The blaze was considered the worst in the history of the cities of Wildwood and North Wildwood. It swept three boardwalk blocks, including the famous Ocean Pier, hotels and stores. Along with all the building northward on the boardwalk from Poplar Avenue, additional homes on Juniper Avenue and 26th Street were damaged.
Lt. Joseph R. Walto was survived at the time of his death by his wife, Carla K. Walto; daughter Elisabeth Walto; son Charles S. and his wife Francis Walto and son Joseph John.
Wildwood Fire Department
September 23, 1952
Bowldrome Fire - Sept. 22, 1952
Firefighter Charles Bonner joined the Holly Beach Fire Company on February 11, 1924 and was transferred to the Municipal Fire Division on November 11, 1938. He played a major role in the activities of the fire companies, participating in the minstrel shows sponsored by the departments. He was an end man. He was also a member of the Hereford Masonic Lodge.
Firefighter Bonner had been under a doctor's care for several weeks prior to the fire that occurred at Rio Grande and Pacific Avenues, destroying Ken's Bowldrome and Locke's Cigar Store. The loss was set at $80,000. The fire started with a large explosion that forced out the front of the bowling alley. Firefighter Bonner apparently suffered a stroke during the excitement and was sent home. He later went to the hospital where he died.
He was survived at the time of his death by two sons, James and Charles Jr., both of whom were in the U.S. Navy; and two daughters, Mary Ann and Corrine, both of Philadelphia. He was also survived by his sister.