Joseph G. Locks Jr., 92, longtime city mortician

April 23, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Joseph G. Locks Jr., a fourth-generation mortician who worked at the business for more than 70 years, died Monday of kidney failure at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. The East Baltimore resident was 92.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Jefferson Street, he was a 1928 graduate of Douglass High School.

Mr. Locks was trained in the business by his mother, Edna Francis Locks, who family members said was the first African-American woman to be licensed as a mortician in Maryland. The business was founded by his great-grandfather, John W. Locks, in 1860.

Mr. Locks remained active at the Joseph G. Locks Funeral Home in the 1300 block of N. Central Ave. until ill health forced his retirement two months ago.

"He was a hard worker who knew people all over the city and state," said his daughter, Jeanne Locks Robinson. "He was laid-back, generous and kind. His business was built on the generations of families who returned to him."

"He was an adamant supporter of education," said a niece, Dr. Donna T. Hollie of Baltimore. "He thought it was important that everyone take advantage of schooling."

Mr. Locks was a member of the Funeral Directors and Morticians Association of Maryland and the East Side Old Timers, a social club. He belonged to the Prince Hall Masons and was a benefactor of the United Negro College Fund.

A baseball fan, he attended International League Orioles games and followed the home team when the Major League Orioles arrived in 1954.

He fished, boated and crabbed at his summer home in Oyster Harbor near Annapolis.

Services will begin with a wake at 11 a.m. Saturday at Waters African Methodist Episcopal Church, 417 Aisquith St., of which Mr. Locks was a lifelong member.

Survivors include his wife of nearly 74 years, the former Mae Carol Henson; another daughter, Barbara Locks McCoy of Baltimore; five grandchildren, including Dr. Patricia Schmoke, wife of former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke; and seven great-grandchildren. A son, Joseph G. Locks III, died in 1992.

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