Edward Pettaway

[ Age 64 ] As director of the state employment office, he enjoyed helping people and cared for his co-workers

October 23, 2006|By Jill Rosen | Jill Rosen,SUN REPORTER

Edward Garlington Pettaway, a retired director of the state's employment office, died Oct. 15 of renal failure, a complication from an earlier surgery, at Stella Maris Hospice in Towson. The Baltimore resident was 64.

Mr. Pettaway was born in Emporia, Va., and lived there until 1958, when his family moved to Baltimore. He graduated from Frederick Douglass High School, where he played tight end on the school's football team.

After attending classes at both Baltimore Junior College and Loyola College, Mr. Pettaway joined his father as a laborer at Flynn and Emrich Foundry in Baltimore.

In 1965 he married Stephanie Yvonne Johnson.

Two years later, he joined the Maryland Department of Employment Security, beginning a career in public service that would last 38 years. He retired last fall as director of the Office of Employment Services.

Carl Harvey of Lauraville started working for the state the same day as Mr. Pettaway and in the same department. After the two struck up a conversation while waiting in line, they became fast friends - a relationship that remained strong even when Mr. Pettaway became Mr. Harvey's supervisor years later.

Mr. Harvey said his friend succeeded at work, moving from an entry-level position all the way to the top of the department, because he was a hard worker, enjoyed helping people find jobs and genuinely cared for his co-workers.

"In a business where production is always pushed on you, Ed felt if you treat people nice, they will respond to you," Mr. Harvey said. "He would not sit on his laurels waiting for the day to end - he was constantly working."

And those days started quite early. Mr. Pettaway, who was meticulous about punctuality, made it a point to arrive at the office by 7 a.m., said his wife. On snow days, he got there even earlier.

He was just as dedicated to his family. He visited his mother every week, and called her every day. He loved letting his grandchildren mess up his hair, and he handled the household's cleaning and ironing duties.

Mr. Pettaway's son, Edward Pettaway II of Rosedale, said his father was never too busy for a long conversation or a pat on the back. When he acted up as a kid, he said, his father helped set him straight - and even used his connections at his state job to find him good part-time jobs.

"He probably didn't think I paid attention, but I paid attention," said his son, who is now a tanker-truck driver. "He was like my best friend."

Though Mr. Pettaway did not attend church, he read the Bible nearly every day.

"He said the history of who we were as a people was in the Bible," said his wife, who added that when something went wrong in the world, "he would go back to the Bible and find some insight."

Mr. Pettaway also enjoyed reading history books and kept a collection of them at home along with an extensive music library that included a number of original record albums.

A good dancer, he liked taking his wife for a twirl around the house and getting dressed up for formal events and galas.

"He was just a good guy," said Mr. Harvey.

Services will be at noon today at Metropolitan United Methodist Church, 1121 W. Lanvale St.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Pettaway is survived by his mother, Rebecca Hines Pettaway of Reisterstown; a daughter, Lesley Koren Etheridge of Catonsville; a sister, Rose Hamilton of Randallstown; two grandchildren; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins.

jill.rosen@baltsun.com

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