Charles Morrison, knew safety, and friendship

March 30, 1993|By Scott Shane | Scott Shane,Staff Writer

Charles F. Morrison, retired director of plant operations at Church Home and Hospital and a national leader in hospital safety and maintenance, died at the hospital Friday of heart failure. He was 76.

Known as "Uncle Charlie," Mr. Morrison was a familiar figure in the restaurants and bars of Fells Point, the neighborhood where he lived alone for many years. A dining room at the Waterfront Hotel on Thames Street was named for him 13 years ago because of the number of patrons he took there.

At the Red Star, next to his Wolfe Street home, employees remembered Mr. Morrison over the weekend by setting up at his regular place at the bar a T-shirt he had made saying, "Friendship: You Can't Buy It," a drink and a pack of cigarettes.

"He was a warm, giving person," said state elections administrator Gene Raynor, owner of the hotel building and one of many political figures who knew Mr. Morrison well. Mr. Raynor said Mr. Morrison could be "cantankerous," and his outspoken manner could take people by surprise. "But once you got past the first sentence, you liked him," Mr. Raynor said.

Mr. Morrison worked at Church Home and Hospital for 26 years, 24 of them as director of plant operations, before retiring in the early 1980s, said Gil Whedbee, president of the hospital and of the associated life-care home for the elderly.

Mr. Morrison was president of the American Society for Hospital Engineering in 1979 and spoke at about 40 seminars organized by the society on fire safety and other matters. He chaired the American Hospital Association's committee on codes and safety for seven years and was the AHA's delegate to the National Fire Protection Association.

Earlier, he helped start the Chesapeake Area Society of Hospital Engineers and was its first president and secretary-treasurer.

"He was very influential nationally in hospital safety," Mr. Whedbee said. But he said Mr. Morrison also was valued in the Church Hospital community for his "sense of humor and outgoing personality. Church Home and Hospital was Charlie's family." Mr. Morrison's closest living relatives were cousins in Pennsylvania, he said.

Every Christmas, Mr. Morrison came up with an unusual gift for close friends, Mr. Whedbee said. One year it was a T-shirt with a picture of one of his dogs, Buddy. In other years, it would be a signed print of a painting he had commissioned of Fells Point or the harbor, he said.

Born in Brunswick, Mr. Morrison grew up in Pennsylvania and worked for the Baltimore and Ohio railroad for several years. As a young man he was active in scouting, volunteering as a scoutmaster and Explorer adviser.

He served on the state Board of Boiler Rules, was a past president of the Midtown Optimist Club, a board member of the Paint and Powder Club, honorary fire chief of the Baltimore Fire Department and adviser to the Salvation Army Boys Club, which had honored him with its Back-A-Boy Award.

A memorial service will be held at Church Home and Hospital, South Broadway and Fayette streets, at 4 p.m. Thursday -- which would have been Mr. Morrison's 77th birthday.

"He always said he was born on April Fool's Day and would probably think it appropriate," Mr. Whedbee said.

Friends suggested donations to Church Home and Hospital.

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