Romeo McClarry, 57, corrections officer

December 08, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Romeo McClarry, a former state corrections officer who established a program that allowed inmates to accompany him to Sunday services at his church, died Thursday of heart failure at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Mr. McClarry, 57, of Owings Mills worked for the Division of Correction from 1980 until failing health forced him to retire in 1996.

As a correctional officer at the resident labor program on Graves Street, Mr. McClarry often took as many as 10 work-release inmates with him at a time to worship at the Church of God in West Baltimore. Mr. McClarry was chairman of the deacon board.

"They seemed to have a certain bond among them with" Mr. McClarry, said Roland Edwards, a friend and former colleague. "He was dedicated to helping and would do anything he could for them."

Mr. McClarry was the only officer entrusted with taking inmates to worship outside of the correctional facilities. The program ended when he left.

Before taking inmates with him to church, Mr. McClarry had a prison ministry as an officer at the former Baltimore City Jail. The effort included having the Church of God choir visit correctional institutions, including the Maryland Penitentiary and City Jail.

"It gave him the opportunity to influence young people and men who had gone astray," said his wife, the former Evelyn Amy Parker, whom he married in 1961. "He affected the lives of many men who went through the system."

A native of Ellaville, Ga., Mr. McClarry moved to Baltimore as a child, graduated from Frederick Douglass High School in 1959 and attended the former Community College of Baltimore and Essex Community College.

He served in the Maryland Army National Guard for more than 20 years, and was discharged in 1980.

For many years before he worked at the Division of Correction, Mr. McClarry managed one of the old Food-A-Rama supermarkets in Northwest Baltimore.

"He really started working for the company when he was 11 and was bagging and delivering groceries," his wife said. "When he was a manager he was very involved in the community."

Mr. McClarry enjoyed singing, cooking and was an Orioles and Ravens fan. For more than 50 years, he belonged to the Church of God, 4310 Edmondson Ave., where services are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Romeo Mark McClarry; two daughters, Lori Grant and Allison McClarry; a sister, Gloria Pratt; and five grandchildren. All live in Baltimore.

Donations may be made to the Kidney Foundation of Maryland, 1107 Kenilworth Drive, Suite 202, Baltimore 21204, or to the Diabetes International Center of Maryland, 6565 N. Charles St., Suite 100, Towson 21204.

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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