Friends Remembered: William Harold Denzer

William Harold Denzer

Carnegie Hero William Harold Denzer, 72, died Sunday, July 2, 2023, in Germantown, Ohio.

He was born Jan. 29, 1951, to William and Marilyn Denzer in Newark, Ohio.

Denzer received the Carnegie Medal for saving a 1-year-old boy from an Aug. 27, 1965, house fire in Kettering, Ohio. When fire broke out in the kitchen of a one-story home where the infant was asleep in the bedroom, the flames spread rapidly and soon broke through the outside wall. Denzer, who was 14 years old at the time, arrived and ran to the mother, who had made it outside, as flames broke through the roof of the kitchen and dense smoke poured through the open windows. He raised himself through the bedroom window with the use of a flower box beneath it, and using a board as a wedge, broke the metal arm holding the window and allowed him to raise it. Denzer held his breath, pushed in on the screen, and fell headfirst into the bedroom. The heat was intense and Denzer was unable to see through the thick layer of smoke, but he followed the cries of the boy and was able to locate the crib guided by his sounds. Denzer removed the baby from the crib, carried him to the window, and thrust him through the opening to someone outside. Although he was unable to hold his breath any longer and took in a breath of smoke, he managed to climb through the opening and fell to the ground. The baby’s father who had also entered the home from an exterior door perished in the fire.

Denzer graduated from Middletown High School, and was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Air Force Reserves. He retired from AK Steel, enjoyed working around the house, and on his 1960 Thunderbird. Bill attended the Germantown First Church of God, was passionate about old cars, and loved his family, especially his grandchildren.

He is survived by daughter, Nickol Hembree; son, Billy; brother, Doug Denzer; sister, Lynette Lamphier; four grandchildren, Austin, Dalton, Wyatt, and Morgan; and a great-grandson. He was preceded in death by his brother, John Haug.