Charles 'Roy' Hare, 82, inventor who owned car repair service

March 19, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Charles "Roy" Hare was not a man of single interests.

He was a businessman who had several successful enterprises in Northeast Baltimore. He was an inventor who created a pay phone, car-dent fixer and remote-controlled lawn mower that resembled a Jeep. He was an animal lover whose pet pig lived in an apartment next to his.

Mr. Hare, 82, a lifelong Baltimore resident who died Monday of heart failure at Good Samaritan Hospital, was known throughout the Hamilton community for his magnetic, but slightly unconventional, personality.

"He was very eccentric. He was a character, that best describes him," said daughter Jeaneen Ortman of Bel Air. "He liked to make people laugh, and he liked to do things in his somewhat strange way."

For nearly 50 years, Mr. Hare owned and worked as a mechanic at Roy's Auto Service on Hamilton Avenue. The shop made mechanical and body repairs, and a handful of Mr. Hare's friends usually passed time at the bays. He lived in an apartment above the business.

"He was a good mechanic who did a little bit of this and a little bit of everything," said son Robert Hare, who took over the business when his father retired from full-time work in the late 1970s.

Mr. Hare's mechanical inclination and imagination led him to create many inventions. In the 1960s, he invented a phone attachment to charge for calls and installed them in several beauty shops, grocery stores and other Hamilton-area businesses.

He didn't make much money from his telephone attachment and it lasted just long enough "to make the phone company upset. They just squished him," Mrs. Ortman said.

His "body file" dent fixer was a modified pair of hedge trimmers that he used to pull out damaged fenders for several years at his body shop.

Perhaps his most interesting creation was his remote-controlled lawn mower. Looking somewhat like a race car with a roll bar, it was designed to cut grass and weeds on steep hills.

"He tinkered with that for a while and it worked fine," said his son. He patented his products but made little money from his inventions.

A Baltimore native, Mr. Hare dropped out of school as a teen-ager and worked for a tire company. As a teen, he began an automotive repair business in horse stables on St. Johns Avenue in Hamilton.

He also made a profit renting the stables for $5 a month.

"He seemed to always have a businessman's mind but with a fun personality. He could turn anything into fun," said John Straub, a friend who knew Mr. Hare when he opened the automotive business.

Mr. Hare married Juanita Swain in 1937 and was divorced in 1970. He served in the Army for about eight months during the end of World War II and returned to his business upon his discharge.

In addition to a repair shop, Mr. Hare also operated a towing business and appraisal service. He also once took flying lessons.

In the 1960s, Mr. Hare owned a 200-pound, black and gray pet potbellied pig named Missy that he kept in a pen/apartment next to his apartment. He often walked his pig on Hamilton Avenue, as one would exercise a dog.

"He would stop traffic on the road, because no one had ever seen anything like it before," his daughter said.

He had an elevator installed in the building so the pig would not have to use the stairs.

He was a member of the American Legion and a contributor to Maryland School for the Blind.

Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. today at Ruck Funeral Home, 5305 Harford Road in Northeast Baltimore.

In addition to his son and daughter, he is survived by two other sons, Stanley Hare and Edward Hare, both of Baltimore; another daughter, Nancy Hare of Greensboro, N.C.; a brother, Carvel Hare of Orlando, Fla.; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 3/19/98

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