Robert Carey Becker, 61, auto mechanic, volunteer for church and community

July 09, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Robert Carey Becker, who worked for a Mount Vernon automobile repair service and was an active volunteer in both his church and neighborhood, died of cancer Tuesday at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium. He was 61 and lived in Charles Village.

Mr. Becker was born in Paris, Texas, and raised in Mountaintop, Pa. After earning a bachelor's degree in English in 1965 from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., he worked as an auto mechanic in Mountaintop for a decade before coming to Baltimore to attend law school.

Mr. Becker continued to work as a mechanic as he studied law at night at the University of Baltimore, where he earned 60 credits.

He was the owner and operator of Automotive Enterprises in Towson from 1982 to 1986, and in 1986 he became a field representative and service consultant for AAA's Mid-Atlantic Division.

After leaving AAA in 2004, he became assistant manager of Comprehensive Car Care Center on Cathedral Street, where he was employed at the time of his death from adenocarcinoma.

"There is no one for whom I have a higher regard for his automotive knowledge than Bob - and that includes Click and Clack, the car guys on the radio," said Robert W. Wagner, vice president of Comprehensive Car Center. "He was a master mechanic who was often called upon by lawyers to provide testimony in civil cases involving automobiles."

Mr. Wagner added: "He was humble and free of bombast. He never expounded on an issue just to impress an attorney. He told them only what they needed to know."

Mr. Becker, who in 1978 married Gail Leigh Garrison, had lived in Charles Village for 30 years.

Friends said that Mr. Becker, who was committed to making life better for others, was a strong proponent of public education.

When the Enoch Pratt Free Library closed its Charles Village branch in 1997, Mr. Becker joined the renovation effort that resulted in the Village Learning Place.

He was a communicant of Episcopal Cathedral of the Incarnation, where he was a member of the Adult Bible Study Group, Adult Formation Group and had been elected to The Chapter, the cathedral's lay governing board.

"One of the best ways to describe Bob is in biblical terms. He was the `salt of the earth.' He was faithful, a stalwart, and always dependable," said the Rev. January E. Hamill, canon for Christian formation at the cathedral. "He was a very faithful guy. If you needed anything done, he'd do it."

Mr. Becker also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, restoring homes in the city's Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood. "He was involved along the way in every house we restored. Next Saturday, we are dedicating our 13th house in Sandtown in Bob's memory," Mrs. Hamill said.

Mr. Becker, who enjoyed cooking soups, baking bread, and preparing Pennsylvania Dutch-style meals, manned the cathedral's kitchen. He helped cook for events such as the annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, All Saint's Day gathering, and prepared roast pig for the Twelfth Night celebration.

"He was a master chef and always behind a lot of pots and pans. He took charge, got things moving, and made sure the quality and quantity was appropriate for whatever occasion he was preparing food," said Vince Parmesano.

"He gave in full measure throughout his life. His death is quite a loss to the community," Mr. Wagner said.

A Celebration of Life service will be held at noon today at his church, St. Paul Street and University Parkway.

Surviving, in addition to his wife, are a daughter, Alice Pleasance Becker, a sophomore at Baltimore City College; a brother, Richard Carey Becker of Halifax, Pa.; and two sisters, Mary Alice Marshal of Wilkes-Barre and Jane Ellen Harter of Nazareth, Pa.

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