Family, friends mourn MARC conductor James E. Major Jr., 48, was train crash victim

February 23, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Railroad workers and conductors wearing deep blue uniforms joined a crowd of family and friends who gathered yesterday afternoon at Hubbard Funeral Home in Southwest Baltimore to say goodbye to James E. Major Jr., 48, a MARC conductor killed in last Friday's train crash in Silver Spring.

The Linthicum resident, a 26-year CSX Transportation employee, was supposed to have been off last Friday. He was filling in for a sick co-worker when he boarded the ill-fated MARC train bound from Brunswick to Washington's Union Station.

"That's the kind of person he was. He was an outstanding guy and good railroader," said Ken McBee, an official with the United Transportation Union, as he stood smoking a cigarette before the 1 p.m. service began.

Said George Stables, a van driver who picks up and delivers railroaders to their jobs and who often had Mr. Major as a passenger, said, "He was a hell of a nice guy -- there was none better."

A long line of cars and vans quickly filled the funeral home's parking lot and the side streets of the normally quiet Beechfield residential neighborhood.

Fog and a light mist added to the overall somber mood as mourners hurried by reporters, their faces showing intense grief.

At the request of the family, reporters were not allowed to join the overflow crowd -- estimated to be more than 300 persons -- that filled four rooms and the hallways and foyer of the funeral home.

Dorothy Teipe, a funeral home worker, described it as "one of the largest funerals we've had in recent years."

The Rev. Colin Phillips of Dorsey Emmanuel United Methodist Church led the service. He described the tragedy " 'as being difficult for all concerned,' " said Dwight Harris, a CSX freight conductor and friend who was inside the funeral home.

"He also said that 'God had made a place for him' and exhorted us to 'carry on his spirit,' " said Mr. Harris.

"Jimmy was well-liked and he was a good family man and a knowledgeable railroader," Mr. Harris said.

The 50-minute service ended with a procession of 134 vehicles ** making the short trip under city police escort eastward on Wilkens Avenue to the mausoleum in Loudon Park Cemetery.

As the cars slowly trailed the hearse into the dreary mid-afternoon fog, a train whistle from Amtrak's nearby Northeast corridor line could be heard blowing mournfully.

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