William D. Meggett, 103, mail carrier

April 20, 2006|By FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN | FREDERICK N. RASMUSSEN,SUN REPORTER

William DeWitt Meggett, a centenarian who had worked as a mail carrier, chauffeur and landscaper, died in his sleep April 13 at St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center. He was a 103.

Mr. Meggett was born and raised in Columbia, S.C., the son of sharecropper parents. He attended public schools in Columbia and moved to Baltimore in the 1920s.

"He taught himself how to read by studying the Bible, and he learned to read music as well," said his daughter, Letha W. Willene of Baltimore.

Mr. Meggett delivered mail in Woodlawn during the 1940s, and worked as a chauffeur and handyman for a Baltimore physician.

"He delivered mail in Woodlawn, which was still very rural in those days, for 75 cents an hour. He worked in the rain, sleet and snow and sometimes with frostbite on his fingers," Mrs. Willene said.

From 1947 until the 1970s, he worked as a chauffeur for the Beury-Gould family in Towson, and worked part time as a Hess Shoe stock clerk.

When he was in his 80s, Mr. Meggett established a landscaping business, which he operated for about a decade.

"Pop really knew plants and had a green thumb. He stopped cutting grass and doing landscaping when he turned 90. He said he stopped because the sun was too hot," his daughter said.

Desiring to keep the roads safe, Mr. Meggett stopped driving when he was in his early 90s.

Mr. Meggett enjoyed singing hymns and had served as choral director at Pentecost Baptist Church on Poplar Grove Street, and later at New Union Baptist Church on North Monroe Street.

He passed on his love of liturgical music to his grandsons, who in turn have become accomplished church musicians.

"He told them, `Listen to the sermon and play something appropriate,'" Mrs. Willene said.

While Mr. Meggett shunned alcohol, he attributed his longevity to no particular health regimen.

"He had smoked cigarettes on and off since he was 13. He ate fried foods and sprinkled garlic gloves or garlic powder on all his food. When he turned a 100, the doctor took away salt and he said, `I've lived this long eating salt, why is he taking it away now?'" his daughter said.

He was married for 58 years to the former Hattie Brown, a homemaker, who died in 1992.

The longtime Mount Holly Street resident was one of the first residents to move into the Allendale Apartments for senior citizens in 1986.

He lived in the West Franklin Street apartment building, where he manned the information desk until moving to St. Elizabeth Rehabilitation and Nursing Center last year.

Mr. Meggett, who lived on his own until he was 101, remained vigorous.

"He had his mind until the end of his life," his daughter said.

Services for Mr. Meggett will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at New Psalmist Baptist Church, 4501 Old Frederick Road.

Also surviving are two sons, Kevin Holland and Nathaniel Holland, both of Baltimore; four brothers; four sisters; 10 grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and a great-great grandson.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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