Charles Joseph Fowler Jr., 65, owner of Belair Road tavern

May 19, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Charles Joseph "Chuck" Fowler Jr., who owned a Belair Road tavern and was host to monthly meetings of the Baltimore area's former National Football League players, died of complications from cancer Monday at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was 65 and lived above his Overlea business.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Kenlea Avenue in Overlea, he attended St. Michael the Archangel Parochial School. He graduated in 1957 from Calvert Hall College High School, where he played ice hockey and football.

He worked for 37 years in Baltimore and Woodlawn for the Social Security Administration and Health Care Financing Administration, where he retired in 1993 as a systems analyst.

While holding his federal job, Mr. Fowler helped his father, Charles "Buck" Fowler, who opened Buck Fowler's Tavern at 6703 Belair Road in 1950. It was in those days a stag bar, with a separate entrance and dining area for women. The younger Mr. Fowler was a bartender and manager until his father died in 1978. He then assumed full ownership and opened the bar to women.

"He ran the place like the show Cheers. Everybody does know everybody's name here," said his daughter, Cathleen Anne DeAngelis of Overlea, one of the owners. "It's a family atmosphere. My father made his place feel like a living room. Everyone is welcome. Around here, people say everyone always ended up at Buck's."

Family members said he had a tenacious memory for names and took pride in recalling people he had met months earlier.

"He should have been a politician," said his daughter, who added that the bar, on the Baltimore County side of the city-county line, drew politicians from both jurisdictions.

Mr. Fowler sponsored many sports teams, including fast-pitch and slow-pitch softball, indoor and outdoor soccer, tenpin and duckpin bowling, pool and darts leagues, and the Overlea-Fullerton Recreation Council.

About a decade ago, former pro football players were looking for a place to hold a monthly meeting, and Mr. Fowler offered a room behind the bar.

"Chuck treated the Baltimore Colts better than anyone around," said Art Donovan, the old team's Hall of Fame defensive lineman. "He was unbelievable, a wonderful, wonderful man, a very warm individual. I liked the way he drank his beer. He would put a scoop of ice in it to dilute it."

"When Chuck invited us, it was the greatest thing that ever happened to us," said ex-Colts defensive back Bruce Laird. "Some people have huge hearts, and he had one. He was all about giving back to people. He didn't have many shirts left, he gave so many off his back."

Colts receiver Jim Mutscheller said, "Chuck always did everything in the best way for us. You could not find a better host or a better person."

His wife, Pert Mutscheller, added, "He was a thoughtful man who included the ballplayers' wives with a gracious hospitality."

"He ran a great neighborhood tavern," Mr. Laird said. "The regulars knew we were back there, but he never capitalized on it for any publicity. It was never about money."

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church, 10 Willow Ave. in Overlea.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include two sons, Michael C. Fowler of Overlea and Charles J. Fowler III of Baltimore; a brother, James L. Fowler of Baltimore; his companion, Sandra Clarke of Baltimore; and four grandchildren. His marriage to the former Marlene Idzik ended in divorce.

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