Donald McMillian, 60, cabdriver who aided Baltimore's homeless

September 21, 1997|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Donald McMillian: In Sunday's editions of The Sun, a photograph used with the obituary for Donald McMillian was incorrect. The Sun regrets the error.

Donald McMillian, a former schoolteacher and city cabdriver who often gave the homeless free rides to shelters in inclement weather, died Wednesday of heart failure while visiting relatives in Atlantic City, N.J.

Mr. McMillian, who was 60 and lived in East Baltimore, also would load food and old clothing in his cab to give to homeless people he saw on the streets, friends and relatives said.


"He certainly had a soft spot in his heart for those who were down on their luck because he was once in their situation, and he cared about them," said Wilbur Epps, a longtime friend. "He cared about people that no one else seemed to care about."

Mr. McMillian drove for Diamond Cab Co. from the mid-1980s until 1994, when he quit and began "hacking," an unlicensed form of offering rides for money.

As a cabbie, he'd drive through the city in the evenings looking for fares as well as the homeless. He knew all the shelters and soup kitchens in the city and would take his new friends to their doors.

"It was a bit of civility that most people wouldn't even consider," said a nephew, Charles Wise of Baltimore. "Most people just look at the homeless and shake their heads or say they'll do something later and never do. Mac took action."

Mr. McMillian once spent a cold, winter night searching for homeless people, chauffeuring more than a dozen to local shelters and not earning any money.

"It seemed liked every 15 minutes or so his cab was outside with someone he wanted to get in," said Emil Reyes, who was once homeless and later worked on the staff of the Helping Up Mission on East Baltimore Street.

A native of Cleveland, Mr. McMillian moved to Maryland in the late 1950s to attend then-Frostburg State College, from which he graduated in the mid-1960s. He taught for several years in city school system and later worked for a Bowie carpet company until the late-1970s.

Friends said that in the early 1980s Mr. McMillian lost his job with a trucking company, which caused him to lose his apartment and most of his belongings, and forced him to live in shelters or on the street and eat at soup kitchens for at least two years. He got back on his feet by driving for Diamond Cab and working at a convenience store. But friends said he never forgot his homeless years.

"He made a lot of friends -- good people -- when he was on the streets," Mr. Epps said. "That anybody had to live like that bothered him a lot. Basically, once he was able to, he devoted himself to making sure as best he could that no one went through what he went through."

A memorial service is being planned.

Mr. McMillian is survived by two sons, Weston McMillian of Las Vegas and David McMillian of Washington; a daughter, Wendy Cade of Elkridge; three brothers, Charles McMillian of Cleveland, Edwin McMillian of Columbus, Ohio, and Freeman McMillian of ** Washington; and a sister, Wanda Davenport of Cleveland.

Memorial donations may be made to Our Daily Bread, 411 Cathedral St., Baltimore 21201.

Pub Date: 9/21/97

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