Carvey G. Davis Jr., a former Baltimore Transit Co. motorman who never lost his affection for streetcars and was a longtime supporter and benefactor of the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, died of bone cancer Saturday at his Glen Burnie home. He was 90.
"Some of Carvey's fondest memories were running and riding streetcars," said John O'Neill, longtime Baltimore Streetcar Museum president, who lives in Jarrettsville.
"He was the ultimate rail fan and the last link for all of us to the great era of Baltimore streetcars," said Martin K. Van Horn, a Pennsylvania Railroad historian and streetcar museum member.
The son of Carvey G. Davis Sr., a politician, and Lucy Davis, an Arundel Ice Cream Co. worker, Carvey Gladstone Davis Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised in the 3800 block of Elm Ave. in Hampden.
His interest in streetcars began in his childhood. When he was a student at Polytechnic Institute, Mr. Davis became an active junior member of the Baltimore Society of Model Engineers.
"Carvey ... remembered riding the Loudon Park Cemetery streetcar even though he was only 5 years old," said Mr. Van Horn.
During World War II, Mr. Davis enlisted in the Army and served in Europe with an artillery unit. He was discharged with the rank of corporal.
"He told the story of entering one of Hitler's houses with other soldiers and they found a bottle of champagne, which they opened," said a daughter, Susan J. Stewart of Ellicott City. "He declined taking a sip when they passed the bottle around, but years later, he said he regretted not taking a sip."
Returning to Baltimore after the end of the war, Mr. Davis began his career in 1947 with the Baltimore Transit Co., working as a motorman and conductor on the No. 26 "Red Rocket" streetcar line that served Dundalk, Sparrows Point and Bay Shore Park.
Mr. Davis was later assigned to the Belvedere car house in Northwest where he spent most of his career.
"At Belvedere, Carvey worked the Nos. 31, 32, 15 and 19 car lines, and the Nos. 5-7 bus that ran from downtown Pikesville," said James A. Genthner, a longtime streetcar fan and museum member who lives in Timonium.
"One day I was on the 15 and we were headed back to the Belvedere car house and there was no one on board, so he invited me to operate the PCC streetcar. This was in 1958-1959. It later became a regular thing as long as there were no passengers onboard," recalled Mr. Van Horn.
When the Belvedere car house closed in 1960, Mr. Davis moved over to the No. 8 York Road line that connected Towson with Catonsville.
As various streetcar lines were converted to buses, he began driving them, but he "remained the operator of choice in streetcar fan trips," said Mr. Genthner.
"He really loved streetcars, but as there was less and less track, it wasn't as much fun anymore," said Mr. Van Horn, who lives in Towson. "It had become just another job, and one day, he suddenly quit. That was in 1962, a year before the end of streetcar service in Baltimore."
Mr. Davis then went to work as a Harbor Tunnel policeman and a charter bus driver for Baltimore Motor Coach. His last job before retiring in the 1980s was working for the Federal Railroad Administration as a track inspector on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor.
As a streetcar museum member and supporter, Mr. Davis' largesse was well-known.
"He contributed a substantial sum of money to purchase No. 7303, a PCC streetcar that had operated in El Paso and San Diego and been converted to an office in New Mexico," said Mr. O'Neill.
"It was the type of car he operated when he was with the BTC, and he was very interested in bringing it back to Baltimore. I am sorry that he didn't live to see it restored and have the chance to operate it," he said.
"Carvey paid $20,000 for the car and then paid to have it painted," said Ed Amrhein, a longtime museum member who lives in Baltimore. "He was generous with his time and money."
In addition to streetcars, Mr. Davis was a fan of the railroads that served Baltimore, especially the old Pennsylvania Railroad.
He built an expansive O-gauge layout in the basement of his home, where he enjoyed operating his collection of streetcars, locomotives and cars for his fellow rail fans.
"Carvey, a true gentleman, was generous with his knowledge, wisdom, stories and funding in making the museum a richer experience for members and visitors alike," said Andrew S. Blumberg, a Rodgers Forge resident who is the streetcar museum's director of public relations and a longtime active member.
"To Baltimore rail fans, Carvey seemed larger than life, and tales of his exploits at the controls of streetcars grew into legends," said Mr. Genthner.
While living in Westview, Mr. Davis was a member of Arlington Baptist Church. At his death, he was a member of Granite Baptist Church in Glen Burnie.
Graveside services will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at Loudon Park Cemetery, 3620 Wilkens Ave.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Davis is survived by his wife of 22 years, the former Ida Marion Saffel; two other daughters, Barbara Lynne Borowy of Ellicott City and Cathy Jane Davis of Catonsville; five grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren. An earlier marriage to the former Wanda Shipley ended in divorce.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun