Randolph Darby, 93, driver for Automotive Electric Co.

September 20, 1996|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Randolph Darby moved from Baltimore to Glen Burnie in 1955 because he wanted land for a garden, space for his grandchildren to play and a home like the one in Virginia where he was raised.

Mr. Darby bought a 100-year-old frame house on a wooded lot on Warfield Road and for the next 41 years was a familiar sight, sitting on his front porch and watching the growth of the community now known as Morris Hill, where he died Monday of kidney disease at home. He was 93.

For nearly 15 years, the community consisted of his house and one other. As neighbors moved in, he and his wife, the former Edna Jackson, whom he married in 1922, were always the first to greet them.

"He just liked people. One of his favorite things to do was sit on his porch and wave at people as they passed by," said Roberta Quarles, who is married to one of his grandsons.

"He knew more about Glen Burnie than probably anybody who ever lived there," said Samuel C. Addison, who once lived on Warfield Road and now lives in Baltimore. "There was not a street paved or a playground made that he didn't know of. Everyone knew him. Everyone liked him."

As the neighborhood grew, Mr. Darby never bemoaned the growth of the community, although he missed the trees and open space that were lost to development.

"He moved to this area because of the open fields and the absence of a lot of houses," Mr. Addison said. "It's different now. It's a community, so, in that respect, it's not what it used to be. But he was always upbeat and kind to everyone who moved in."

Mr. Darby and his wife had many antiques in their home, including a potbellied, coal-burning stove.

"They're antiques now, but a lot of them were new when he bought them," Ms. Quarles said. "They became antiques while he had them."

A native of Richmond, Va., Mr. Darby moved to Carey Street in West Baltimore in 1922. Soon after, he went to work as a driver for Automotive Electric Co. and retired in 1971 after more than 40 years.

Despite not having a formal education, he could "assemble and unassemble any vehicle as fast as any mechanic," said Hugh Darby, an uncle. "It's something he learned as a youngster. His back yard was sometimes crammed with cars waiting to be fixed."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. today at Central Baptist Church, 2035 W. Baltimore St.

His wife died in 1980. He is survived by four grandsons; a granddaughter; 16 great-grandchildren; and two great-great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 9/20/96

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