Polly H. Warren, 73, Pimlico activist, fraud investigator

November 06, 2003|By Jacques Kelly and Frederick N. Rasmussen | Jacques Kelly and Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Polly H. Warren, a Pimlico neighborhood activist who helped run its farmers' market, died of a heart attack Oct. 30 at her home. She was 73.

Born Polly Burrell in Baltimore and raised on Howard Street, she was a 1948 graduate of Dunbar High School. She earned a diploma from the old Cortez Peters School of Business and attended Coppin State College before earning an associate's degree from the Community College of Baltimore. She also received a certificate in leadership training from Rutgers University and studied sign language at Morgan State University.

In 1953, she began working as an investigator for the Interstate Detective Agency in Roland Park, where she remained for 20 years. She did undercover work, posing as a factory worker to expose workplace fraud. She then became a welfare fraud investigator for the Department of Social Services, based at its Guilford Avenue office. She retired about five years ago.

After moving to West Rogers Avenue in the early 1970s, she became active in neighborhood affairs. She was elected president of the Pimlico Good Neighbors Association. She also served on the board of the Park Heights Network Council and the Northwest Baltimore Corp., a nonprofit group that directs services in the community.

"She did it all. She tried to save the neighborhood and she succeeded in bringing it around. Doing for other people was her hobby," said her husband of 40 years, Junius Lee "Ernie" Warren, a retired longshoreman and former lead singer of the Cardinals, who performed with the quintet from 1949 to 1956.

Mrs. Warren involved herself in such concerns as abandoned houses, education, drugs, crime and senior citizens - issues that affected the quality of life in the neighborhood that includes Pimlico Race Course.

Since 1992, Mrs. Warren had managed the neighborhood farmers' market on the track parking lot. She encouraged participants to donate unsold vegetables to area soup kitchens.

"She had boundless enthusiasm and a deep and abiding commitment to her community," said Joseph A. De Francis, co-owner of Pimlico. "She never had a hidden agenda."

Services will be held at 10 a.m. tomorrow at New Fellowship Community Church, Park Heights and Belvedere avenues.

In addition to her husband, Mrs. Warren is survived by three sons, David Spears, Darrell Warren and Raymond Bailey, a foster son she raised as her own, all of Baltimore; a brother, Beverly Burrell of Baltimore; two sisters, Rose Koehn and Grace Wells, both of Baltimore; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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