Slain during a carjacking, `wonderful' father recalled

Retired autoworker described as generous

November 12, 2003|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

Charles Edward Warner Sr. had a generous disposition and enjoyed helping others, but he wasn't the type to allow someone to take something from him, friends and family say.

Police believe Warner resisted when an assailant tried to steal his beloved customized van Saturday from a Wendy's parking lot in Northwest Baltimore.

Warner, 59, was fatally shot during the carjacking, and the 1995 Chevrolet van was stolen, investigators said.

"He would give to others, but he would not let people take something he'd worked hard for. He would not stand for that," said Warner's friend Jimmy Seward.

The two were in a social club for custom van enthusiasts.

"He has had that van for a couple of years, and he was in love with that van," Seward said.

Baltimore homicide Detective Irvin Bradley said yesterday police were searching for Warner's killer.

The van was recovered a day after the shooting.

Warner, of the 4000 block of Elderon Ave. in Northwest Baltimore, was a retired father of two and grandfather of seven. His death has left family and friends wondering how he could be gunned down on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

"My dad was wonderful," said Charles Warner Jr., 31. "My dad used to teach me a lot about dignity and values. He was really, really high on honesty and being responsible for your actions.

"He said anything you do in life, you have to speak for that. Good or bad, you have to be held accountable," the younger Warner said.

Warner's son also remembered father-son activities.

"Even though my dad wasn't the best fisherman, every weekend he took us somewhere," he said. "I was in the Cub Scouts. ... He was just a good provider."

The elder Warner retired last year from General Motors' Broening Highway plant after working there more than 30 years, his son said. Recently, he worked as a custodian at a retirement home in Baltimore County.

Warner married his high school sweetheart, Jeanette, and they had been together for 38 years.

Their daughter, Vonda Warner, said yesterday she is worried about her mother, who lost her best friend.

"I just feel for my mother," Vonda, 38, said. "I think about their relationship. My mother was 15 when they started dating and 16 when she had me. He's all she knew. She really loved him, and he really loved her."

Vonda Warner said yesterday that her parents loved taking trips in the van, which was equipped with a television and cushioned bench. She said they were considering moving to Florida.

"Dad was really cautious about safety and had several locks in the house," Vonda Warner said.

"For something like this to happen is devastating. I'm still in shock. I still can't believe it," she said.

Neither can Seward, 62, president of Roadmasters Vanners Inc., the van club that Warner belonged to. Warner joined Roadmasters in 1992 and became an officer in the club.

"He was a fun-loving person," Seward said of his friend, adding that Warner often refused reimbursement for expenses he incurred on behalf of the club. "He loved life. He was our business manager, and that's really the hardest job in the club."

Seward said he spoke to Warner a couple of times Saturday. Warner was excited about a suit he had purchased to wear to the van club's annual "Oldies But Goodies" dance that night.

"He was talking about how he'd gotten such a good deal," Seward recalled. "He was telling me how nice it looked and where he'd gotten it. He was in very good spirits."

Warner will be buried in the suit, his daughter said.

A wake is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at March Funeral Home West, 4300 Wabash Ave. A service will follow at the funeral home.

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