William C. Gavin, 72, letter carrier and longtime usher at Civic Center

April 17, 1999|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

William Charles Gavin, a retired letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service and longtime Civic Center usher, died Sunday in his sleep at his Waverly residence. He was 72.

Mr. Gavin, who began his post office career in 1947, walked a downtown route for 42 years until retiring in 1989. At the time of his death, he worked as a doorman at the Washington Apartments in Mount Vernon Place.

"He prided himself that he had delivered the mail through the blizzards of 1947, 1958, 1966, 1979 and 1983," said a brother, James G. Gavin of Towson.

He was a fixture at the downtown facility now known as the Baltimore Arena, where he began working as an usher in 1962 when it was the newly opened Civic Center.

He ushered at sporting events, concerts, graduations and the annual visit of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus until retiring as head usher in 1979.

A fan of the music of Vic Damone, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., Mr. Gavin liked to visit piano bars and was a longtime regular at the old Harvey House on North Charles Street.

"He enjoyed going to piano bars and singing, even though he really couldn't sing," his brother said with a laugh.

Born and raised in the 2700 block of Maryland Ave., Mr. Gavin was a 1944 graduate of Calvert Hall College high school, where he was an outstanding basketball player who led the Maryland Scholastic Athletic Association in scoring.

As a teen, he ushered at the old Oriole Park on 29th Street and helped salvage undamaged parts of the ball field after it burned down on July 4, 1944. Drafted into the Navy later that year, he served until 1946, when he was discharged with the rank of petty officer.

Known for his generosity and his sympathy for hard-luck stories, Mr. Gavin was given the nickname "Ten-Dollar Philanthropist" by his family.

Mr. Gavin was a communicant of SS. Philip and James Roman Catholic Church, where a Mass of Christian burial was offered Thursday.

He is survived by two other brothers, Timothy F. Gavin of Parkville and John J. Gavin of Towson; and 10 nieces and nephews.

Pub Date: 4/17/99

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