Senior Electrical Technician for Baltimore Gas and Electric
7/2/1936 - 9/22/2005
Born July 2, 1936 in Harrisonburg;
student in Harrisonburg primary school; graduated from Baltimore
City College High School, then a college prep school, in January
1954; U. S. Army, 101st Airborne active duty, 1954-57, discharged
from active service due to total deafness; U. S. Army Reserves
1957-1961, honorably discharged; attended law school at the
University of Baltimore; sang as a member of the Alamedia Light
Opera Company from 1951-54 and thereafter from 1957 until his death
in 2005; member of the Baltimore Chorale; the youngest son of
Charles W. DeVier, Sr. and his wife Helen Margaret Miller.
Dad was born in Harrisonburg and lived there until the age of 13 or 14. In 1950, his mother returned to her hometown of Baltimore taking him with her. He began 8th grade at Roland Park Jr. High School but wrote one time that he had difficulty adjusting. Not because of his surroundings, but because of his past. He recalled that he was always anxious and constantly remembered his mother's torment while married to his father. He used to get sick in the mornings and was frequently taken out of school for trips to Florida. One such trip involved an ear infection that he had contracted from one of his father's bird dogs. During WWII and without penicillin, the doctor lanced his eardrum, which of course drained, and his parents were then advised to take him to Florida so that the heat would dry up the infection. It finally cleared - but he was left with a scarred eardrum and constant ringing in his right ear.
Once in Baltimore, he lived with his mother's mother, Mrs. Ella DuVall Miller, at her family home at 505 Franklin Terrace. He attended Baltimore City College High School, and joined the Glee Club. At the age of 15 he was invited to join the Alamedia Light Opera Company because he had a lovely baritone voice, and could read music. He graduated a year and half late from City in February 1955 and spend a half-year in Junior College. Like his father, he had had lessons on the trumpet, clarinet and piano and probably wanted nothing more than to be a musician. He has said that while in high school and college, he had no idea what he wanted to do. The thought of being a musician scared him because he didn't think he had a thorough background.
Drafted by the U.S. Army in late 1955, he was sent to Fort Jackson, South Carolina for membership in the newly reactivated 101st Airborne Infantry. Rendered totally deaf by an ordinance accident, he was transferred to Mechanics School. While there, he had another soldier come after him with a bayonet and a fight ensued. Both men landed in the hospital, dad with a broken jaw, further complicating the issues with his ear, and the other man with internal injuries. Dad apparently had a mean left hook. While in the hospital as a dental patient, he worked as a Chair Assistant and subsequently spent the rest of his service in the Medical Corps. In 1957, he along with members of the 101st Airborne from Fort Campbell, KY were sent to Little Rock, Arkansas to counter the governor's attempt to block black students from entering Little Rock High. He sent several letters to my mother at this time, detailing what went on as he as the other members of his unit faced down the locals.
He married my mother, Marjorie Claire Glenn in June of 1959, following his discharge from active service after Little Rock in October 1957. My mother had told him that she would wait for him and indeed she did. He joined the reserves and had as his commanding officer, a former U.S. Army nurse and WWII veteran, as well as Maryland's former governor, William Donald Schafer, with whom he also went to high school. He spent at year working at Bethlehem Steel and quickly became and electrical apprentice at BGE. He worked outside and drove hundreds of miles a week but refused an indoor desk job with the company on several occasions because he loved being outside. He worked downtown during the Baltimore Riots in 1968 to help reconnect lines and restore power in places where vandals had looted and burned. He got shot at, bitten by dogs, and chased by cows; propositioned by women and men, even fell though a ceiling and landed on a mattress in a basement of a vacant home. He got locked on a mall roof and had to remove snakes from his tool kits and company cars; he went to most of the local prisons and asylums to do electrical work; he delivered a baby on the front seat of his company car in the middle of one Baltimore's famous ice storms. Each week he came home with a new story about something that happened at work. Sometimes it was simply 2 inch long roaches he'd bring home in a jar to show mom, and sometimes he'd come home with stitches in his ankle. One time he came home with a kitten. He retired from the company after 37 years as a Senior Electrical Tester and with a citation from the company and the police department for safe driving. He attended night school in the early sixties as well and studied law, but did not like the lying that he felt lawyers had to do and thus dropped from classes.
As a child, I remember that he worked overtime on Saturdays for extra money and took repair jobs for neighbors and our church, again for the money and because he liked to tinker with electronics. He was always on call with BGE during storm trouble, most particularly when hurricane Agnes hit the Baltimore-D.C area in 1972. He spent evenings at choir practice, taking my sister and myself to piano lessons and ballet, me to art lessons, sis to cello lessons. When I had my stroke at the age of 5 - he would go to work, come home, eat dinner, shower, change and drive to the hospital where he spent the night in a upright chair next to my bed. My nurse woke him in the morning, he had breakfast with me then left, went to back work and repeated the entire process over again - for 2+ weeks. He drove sis to orchestra practice for the myriad of orchestras that she played with and he took all of us to the opera and the symphony. Whenever a new musical was released, he would buy the LP, introducing me very early to shows like Hair, Fiddler On The Roof, Camelot, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Hello Dolly!, etc. We went to see the older shows like The Student Prince and Desert Song. He studied voice for a while as well, although he seemed to be able to do naturally what others took years to learn. His voice teacher offered him a slot with the Baltimore Opera chorus and encouraged him to audition for the now defunct Baltimore Symphony Chorus. When shows like Chicago and Phantom of the Opera hit the big screen, he eagerly went - and came home with a critique of each performance. Simply put, he loved music and theater.
He decided when I was 16 that come hell of high water, I was going to learn to drive and so he took the family car down to the veterans hospital where he had a left-foot accelerator installed. He then marched me over to drivers ed and wangled with the instructor so he could use that car to teach me to drive. Learn I did, and quickly too. He wanted me to be self-sufficient I suppose, and being able to drive he said would give me independence. He also taught me about the engine, and while I certainly am no mechanic, I know enough to keep from getting ripped off by other mechanics.
Because of his love of the outdoors, our family always spent time in West Virginia on vacation. Summers were spent at the beach, where we stayed with my godmother, and fall was spent at Blackwater Falls, West Virginia in a huge 8 person cabin where my godmother, my mother's parents and dad's mother would stay for the week. He took us hiking and introduced my sister and myself to the beauty of the state park and the surrounding area. His ashes are scattered at Lindy Point Overlook, a place in the park that he loved. Like his father, he was avid photographer and always had a camera ready to take pictures. He also ensured that we went to Disney World and would drive there so we could stop at places like Boone Hall Plantation in South Carolina, Sea World, St. Augustine and Daytona in Florida. After he retired he decided that he wanted to see "The West" and so he packed up mom in his Caddy and drove to South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The next trip west meandered further south through Tennessee, Missouri and Oklahoma, eventually stopping to turn around somewhere in the Four Corners. He took hundreds of pictures that fill dozens of photo albums.
He also loved cars and while he may not have had the most expensive car on the market - he took care of the ones he had. His first was 47 Chevrolet that belonged to his mother. His second was a 59 Chevy, purchased about the time of his wedding. In 1968 he purchased a Chevy Caprice and in 1979 he purchased an Oldsmobile which replaced the 59 which, at 20 years old, had finally turned into an expense. In 1985 he turned the Caprice over to my sister and bought another Oldsmobile for my mother. I fell heir to a '68 ChevelleIn 1992, dad finally bought a Cadillac and sold the 79 Olds. In 94, mom's 85 Olds began to given him trouble so he sold that as well and bought her a Buick. Every last one of his cars was some shade of Blue - except for the Buick - which was tan. When mom passed away in 2003, he contemplated selling it as well, but couldn't bring himself to. He was driving it 2005 when the accident which ultimately cost him his life occurred. I have photos of all his cars. All but that one.
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