Moses Oliver Albin Lake, 82, insurance investigator

June 07, 2000|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Moses Oliver Albin Lake, retired chief investigator for the state Insurance Division who also had a long career as a salesman, died Friday of a heart attack at his Forest Park home. He was 82.

After many years in sales, he joined the state agency and retired in 1985.

Born in Charleston, W.Va., he lived for a while in Upperville, Va., before moving as a child to Baltimore, where he lived on Gilmor Street. He was a graduate of Booker T. Washington Junior High School and Frederick Douglass High School.

As a youth, he found ways to supplement the family income. When he was 10, he shined shoes at a Druid Hill Avenue barbershop. During the summer, he would gather chunks of ice that fell from freight cars at a railroad yard and sell them to neighbors who did not have refrigerators.

As an older teen, he learned the dry-cleaning and tailoring trade at the old Premier and Elite cleaners, both in Northwest Baltimore.

After serving in the Army during World War II, he used the GI Bill to open a snack shop in downtown Baltimore with partners Phil Taylor and Theodore Stewart. In its back room, he taught dry cleaning and tailoring.

Mr. Lake also rang doorbells in West and Northwest Baltimore, selling brushes and mops for the Fuller Products Co.

Family and friends recalled him as a natural salesman, attired in a dress shirt and tie, who won customers with his breezy and confident manner.

"He could sell anything to anyone. He could sell ice to people who live in Alaska," said his daughter, Mabel Lake Murray of Randallstown.

In the early 1950s, Mr. Lake joined the old Key Wine and Liquor Co., in the 1800 block of Worcester St. as a salesman.

As part of the promotion for the Key line, he founded a weekly Sunday musical variety show, In By Five, at the Famous Ballroom, today the site of the Charles Theatre at Charles and Lafayette streets. If patrons arrived by five in the afternoon, they could see the entire show.

In the 1960s, Mr. Lake went into the insurance business as a salesman for Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. He then joined National Life and Accident, initially as a collector and later as manager of nine district offices in the Middle Atlantic region.

He retired in 1985 as chief investigator of the state Insurance Division, now the Maryland Insurance Administration, after many years of service.

In 1934, he married IanthaAlexander. They divorced. In 1958, he married Alelia Baker, a retired federal worker, who survives him.

Funeral services will be held at 7 p.m. today at Fallsroad AME Church, 2145 Pine Ave., Randallstown.

In addition to Mabel Lake Murray, he is survived by three other daughters, Jannette Lake Dates of Mount Washington, Iantha Lake Tucker of Catonsville and Cheryl Lake Weatherford of Catonsville; two stepsons, Alonzo Price of Baltimore and Thaddeus Price Sr. of Woodlawn; 13 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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