Milton Washington, 64, owner of Walbrook carryout

September 08, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Milton Washington's daily routine at his carryout and deli at North Avenue and Longwood Street began this way: He'd arrive at 5: 30 a.m., brew a pot of coffee, put on some James Brown music and ease into the workday.

"The last few months he played 'The Big Payback' a lot," said his son, Mark Washington of Baltimore. "You could always hear some James Brown in there."

Mr. Washington, 64, who died Monday of an aneurysm at the University of Maryland Medical Center, worked at the store until about 9 p.m. seven days a week. He bought the store in 1978.

"He was just a workaholic and he loved it that way," said his wife, the former Rosetta McCoy, who lived with her husband in an apartment above the West Baltimore carryout. "He was a good businessman who cared about the community."

The store, Gene's Carryout -- a name given it by a previous owner -- fit the Walbrook community well. Both were vibrant and lively.

And, although the area has crime, patrons felt safe visiting the shop and talking to Mr. Washington, whom they dubbed "Mr. Bill."

"He was real good people, always had good things to say. He'd give you a hand if you ever needed one," said LaWanda Jackson, who lives nearby. "You had a lot of troubles around here -- drugs and shootings and all -- but Mr. Bill made everybody feel good."

A native of Baltimore, Mr. Washington attended Frederick Douglass High School and served in the Army from 1947 to 1950. He married in 1952 and lived most of his life in West Baltimore.

He worked for the Post Office from 1955 to 1976, and bought Gene's Carryout two years later.

The business thrived because Mr. Washington was "people-oriented," friends and family said.

"He loved being with people and he loved being successful," Mrs. Washington said. "He was involved in the community and tried to drive drugs out of here, but that was hard to do."

Said Mark Washington: "Everyone thought he must have been a priest because everyone would always come in and drop all of their problems."

Over the years, people had been shot or suffered drug overdoses in front of the store. Once a man was shot and ran into the store with several gunmen in pursuit. Mr. Washington let the wounded man behind the counter and called police, his wife said.

"This is a tough neighborhood to stay in for 20 years without getting robbed or someone putting a gun in your face," said another son, Milton W. Washington Jr. of Tulsa, Okla. "But he did because everyone around here liked him."

Sandy McNeil, who went to the store daily to get a soda, said she had a long running tab with Mr. Washington.

"I'm just like a lot of other people around who don't have money and are just trying to make it," she said. "He knew I didn't have no money, but he let me have a Pepsi every day on him.

Services are scheduled for 6: 30 p.m. today at William March Funeral Home, 1101 E. North Ave.

Other survivors include a third son, Malcolm Washington of Baltimore; a daughter, Gail Washington of Baltimore; six brothers, Tony Washington of Los Angeles, Stanley Washington, William Washington, Von Washington, Clifton Washington and Allen Washington, all of Baltimore; two sisters, Mona Throckmorton and Wendy Washington-Jones, both of Baltimore; and 10 grandchildren.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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