Burton Francis Corson, 87, engineer and longtime Meals on Wheels volunteer

April 03, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

For the past 31 years, to see Burt Corson standing on your doorstep meant a hot meal, a few minutes of warm conversation and his signature "how ya doin' " greeting.

Burton Francis Corson volunteered each Wednesday as a deliverer for Meals On Wheels, a nonprofit organization that provides free meals to elderly and disabled people who can't provide for themselves.

Mr. Corson, 87, died March 26 of a heart attack while making a delivery at Sutton Place apartments in Bolton Hill.

On some days, he was the only person many people on his route saw.

"To many people he was the bright spot in their day," said Carolyn Anust, whose aunt was on Mr. Corson's once-a-week route. "He'd come in and make sure things were OK. He usually had other meals to deliver, but he was known to come back later to make sure things were OK."

In recent years, Mr. Corson's route consisted of 10 to 15 homes in Hampden. He worked for only a few hours a day, and his aging white Dodge was a familiar sight in all types of weather.

Mr. Corson, who retired from his job as an engineering manager for Shell Oil Co. in 1971, was the longest tenured volunteer in the 36-year-old Meals on Wheels program.

"He was very outgoing and a hard worker," said Ed Nicol, who worked with Mr. Corson at Meals On Wheels for more than 20 years. "He was dedicated to anything that would somehow help people."

A native of Philadelphia, Mr. Corson graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in civil engineering in 1931 and worked for the Philadelphia Park Commission until he went to work for Shell Oil Co. in 1937.

He was transferred to Baltimore in 1938, where he was an engineering manager until he retired.

He began volunteering at Meals On Wheels in 1965 as a deliverer while working for Shell, somehow managing to take at least two hours from his job once a week to make deliveries.

"This is the kind of person who shows others how easy it is to do something for someone else when you put your mind to it," said Aaron Jennings, a longtime friend. "Instead of just sitting back and enjoying idle time, he spent his helping others. It kind of makes you feel guilty."

Mr. Corson, who lived in North Baltimore, would often ask to fill in for other deliverers who couldn't make their rounds because of bad weather and vigorously recruited other drivers.

"Caring for the elderly was always a priority with him," said the Rev. Jack Sharp, the pastor at Govans Presbyterian Church where Mr. Corson was a member since 1948, serving as elder, trustee, treasurer and clerk of session. He was also the Sunday school superintendent.

"He was always anticipating the needs and concerns of others and was always there for them," Mr. Sharp said.

He married Margaret Dading in 1931; she died in 1981.

An avid golfer, Mr. Corson was a member of the Maryland Golf and Country Club. He also belonged to the Maryland Society of Professional Engineers, the Boy Scouts of America, the Order of Founders and Patriots of America, Torch Club International, the Roland Park Chapter of the Great Books Society and the Society of the War of 1812.

Services were held Friday.

He is survived by two sons, Charles A. Corson of Baltimore and Peter B. Corson of Raleigh, N.C.; and four grandchildren.

Pub Date: 4/03/97

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