Charles "Chappie" Manning, one of Baltimore's premier cab drivers who was a goodwill ambassador in his Yellow taxi for nearly 50 years, died Wednesday at Johns Hopkins Hospital of a stroke. He was 83.
Blessed with never-ending optimism and a strong will, Mr. Manning, who lived in Turners Station, put more than 3 million miles on the meters of Yellow Transportation Inc. cabs.
FOR THE RECORD - An obituary published Monday for Charles "Chappie" Manning misidentified a survivor, daughter Charlene Dickerson of Baltimore. The Sun regrets the error.
Along the way, he dispensed much wisdom and knowledge.
A trip for one of Mr. Manning's customers was always an experience. He might break out in his baritone voice and sing, spin yarns about being a Golden Gloves fighter in the 1940s training camp of Joe Louis or dip into his encyclopedic mind and give a lesson on local politics.
"Chappie was an optimist and a very decent man," said Helen Delich Bentley, a former congresswoman attempting to regain her seat in Maryland's 2nd District. "He always had such a good outlook on life."
Iris Manning, his wife of 57 years, said, "He loved that cab, playing his saxophone and boxing. Chappie drove his cab the day before he got sick last week. Driving the cab, he met all kinds of weird characters."
Like the naked passenger who wanted to go to New York. Or the two armed men from whom he escaped unharmed after they tried to carjack his cab.
"Now Chappie could talk," said his wife. "I think that's why he loved politics."
Born in Hamlet, N.C., Mr. Manning moved to Washington with his family as a young child. He attended local schools there and then joined the Army in 1941.
He played the saxophone in the Army band, mostly at Aberdeen Proving Ground. While in the service, he discovered that he was good with his hands.
Mr. Manning competed in military boxing matches around the country and continued to fight after his discharge in 1945. He trained at Joe Louis' camp in upstate New York and boxed for nearly 10 years, including Golden Gloves, while working several side jobs, his wife said.
In 1960, he went to work for Baltimore County, where he was a clerk. He retired from that job in 1985. All that while, he drove his cab.
"It was his way of meeting people," said his wife. "He just found people fascinating. He campaigned for politicians and he could talk your ear off about sports, especially boxing."
From the family home on Avon Beach Road in Turners Station, Mr. Manning stayed in touch with his life's passions. He taught children how to box and instilled in them the self-discipline it took to train and not give up.
He was a member of the Ring 101 Club in Baltimore, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Turners Station, where he was a member of the choir. He also played the saxophone at church affairs.
A service will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Matthew's United Methodist Church in Turners Station. Burial will be in Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery.
In addition to his wife, the former Iris Dodd, survivors include two sons, Carlos Manning and Charles Dickerson, both of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.