Horse trainer Charles Dewald is happiest at PimlicoAt 82...


May 19, 1991|By Mary Corey

Horse trainer Charles Dewald is happiest at Pimlico

At 82, you might think horse trainer Charles Dewald would prefer to trot rather than gallop into the homestretch of life.

Don't bet on it.

"I got to be on the go," he says. "Relaxing would drive me crazy."

So most days he leaves his Northeast Baltimore home by 5 to spend hours saddling horses, instructing jockeys and checking on the stables he oversees at Pimlico.

Despite having worked as everything from a truck driver to restaurateur, his heart always belonged to the races. The love affair began at age 10 when he was taken to Pimlico. He would have returned every day if he could have figured out the bus route, he says.

Since childhood, he's attended the Preakness 35 times, often sitting in what's become his regular spot -- next to the finish line. "We can practically touch the horses," he says gleefully.

In 1955, he began training horses and calls simple common sense his style.

"It's just patience," explains Mr. Dewald, who's married and has three sons. "Horses are flesh and blood. If you hurt them, they'll know it and they'll stay clear of you."

His total purse earnings now amount to $24,000, and so far this year his four horses have placed in eight races.

But the race he most enjoys recalling occurred April 2, 1957, when Solid Gem, a horse he owned and trained, came in first at Laurel and won for him $12,000.

He says, "When you walk into that winner's circle, then you know you've done the job."

Every morning before Edgar K. Wiggins takes on the complex world of mental health, he laces up his running shoes and jogs six miles.

"It's one of the few things in life that is absolutely clear and concrete," he says. "You don't have to worry about it. It's just one foot after another."

As the new director of the Black Mental Health Alliance, however, there's plenty to worry about: patients being misdiagnosed, counselors fighting burnout, grant money dwindling.

The six-year-old organization trains mental health professionals about how cultural differences may factor into a diagnosis.

"The work is difficult, and the staff needs our support," says Mr. Wiggins, 40, who lives in Baltimore County with his wife and son.

After getting his master's in human services, Mr. Wiggins put his knowledge to work in hospitals, community mental health centers and on crisis hot lines.

"I've always been challenged by the needy," he says.

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