Carl Mayer, 66, house painter, warned youths about alcohol

January 22, 1998|By Rafael Alvarez | Rafael Alvarez,SUN STAFF

Carl Mayer -- an expert house painter who loved to tell stories about his adventures before and after his recovery from alcoholism -- died of heart disease Jan. 8 in his Charles Village apartment.

At the time of his death, Mr. Mayer had been sober for 5 1/2 years. He was 66.

"His passion was telling stories," said Guy Duncan, a longtime friend. "If St. Peter's up there listening, then Carl ain't got into heaven yet, because he's still talking."

Born in New Brunswick, N.J., Mr. Mayer came to Baltimore with his parents as a child. Little is known about his childhood except that the family lived for a time near the Maryland Penitentiary in the city's old 10th Ward and was proud of its German roots.

Mr. Mayer's drinking began early and continued for decades in rough taverns in and around the Baltimore waterfront. Gentle in manner, he often expressed regret for the heartache his escapades caused his mother but never complained about the suffering he caused himself.

"The things that stand out about Carl were his great big blue eyes and his uncompromising honesty," said William E. Mullen, a friend of about 15 years. "He often told me things I didn't like about myself, but they were true. And although his life was kind of rough, he finished up being happy and comfortable with himself. Once he found his peace, he was zealously protective of it."

Mr. Mayer found his peace in the fellowship of others who had gone down some of the same roads that he had. After trying to quit drinking time and again for more than 20 years, he finally put the bottle down for good and made a tidy home for himself in the 3100 block of St. Paul St.

A longtime patron of Becker's clothing store on Greenmount Avenue, Mr. Mayer enjoyed dressing well, visiting the harbor, and watching Western movies, especially those starring John Wayne.

With no children, he delighted in sharing his life's lessons with young people in the hope that they might side step some of the pitfalls he encountered.

"Carl didn't go very far in school, but he was a very smart man, and he was intuitive about different types of people," said Mr. Duncan. "He loved young people, and they loved him. He didn't want them to have to go through what he did."

In his profession -- whether working for private companies, himself or the state of Maryland -- Mr. Mayer was known as "a climber" and excelled at painting difficult-to-reach spots, such as domes on buildings.

He made money between painting jobs by hauling lumber and shipping out in the merchant marine.

Since retiring about five years ago, Mr. Mayer would sometimes paint for friends as a kindness.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow in the undercroft of Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd.

Mr. Mayer had no known relatives.

Pub Date: 1/22/98

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