J. Edward Naylor Sr., a retired Maryland Transit Administration employee who once had top seniority among his peers as a streetcar and bus operator, died of respiratory failure Nov. 29 at the Village of Harbor Point Assisted Living in Salisbury. The former Medfield-area resident was 95.
Born in Upperco and raised in White Hall in Northern Baltimore County, he was the son of farmers Clearfield and Elsie Naylor. Family members said he attended Hereford High School and worked on neighboring farms as a young man.
Mr. Naylor moved to Baltimore and took a job at the Greenspring Dairy in 1937.
"He was a line operator and later oversaw an early paper carton container for milk distribution in Baltimore," said his son, James E. Naylor Jr. of Baltimore.
When World War II broke out, Mr. Naylor volunteered when he heard the call for persons capable of driving a bus. "He assumed that since he knew how to drive a farm tractor, he could transport soldiers by bus to various deployment locations," his son said.
In 1942, after receiving training, he began a lengthy association with the old Baltimore Transit Co. and worked at its Retreat Street vehicle depot in Northwest Baltimore. He was initially a streetcar motorman and later operated trackless trolleys, buses and mobility vans.
"My father remained an operator for 40 years and had a distinguished record of consecutive days without absence, many times walking to the bus yard in blizzards," his son said, adding that his father was assigned to the No. 10 line, whose northern terminus was the Roland Park water tower. For many years he worked the No. 28 Liberty Heights Avenue-Randallstown bus line.
"He had a tremendous work ethic. He told me that people relied upon him to get to work and their jobs. He would say, 'I have an obligation to my riders.' "
Mr. Naylor lived for decades near the 41st Street Bridge. In snowy weather, he walked across it and into Druid Hill Park until he reached the Retreat Street garage, where he began work.
His son said that in his father's final five years of work, he drove for the MTA Mobility Service and transported special-needs riders to medical appointments and other destinations.
In 1982, Mr. Naylor retired from the state transit agency. His son said that he carried badge No. 1 in recognition of his status as the most senior driver in service with the agency.
"He told me he wished he worked long enough to have operated the first Metro transit train from Owings Mills," his son said. As a passenger, Mr. Naylor rode the Metro and light rail lines.
He also drove MTA charter buses from restaurants and bars to Baltimore Colts games at the old Memorial Stadium.
"He always left in the fourth quarter to warm the bus for his passengers," said his son.
Mr. Naylor lived in the Medfield section of the city until 2001, when he moved to the Eastern Shore.
He and his wife were members of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church in Hampden and Shrine of the Sacred Heart in Mount Washington.
Mr. Naylor was a member of the Knights of Columbus and rose to the organization's Fourth Degree status for "exemplary service to the community." He was also an avid gardener and cultivated hybrid tea roses in a rowhouse garden that he gave to neighbors or church functions.
His son said his father drove friends and neighbors to medical appointments after his retirement. His wife did not like to travel, but he got AAA maps and formulated auto trips atop the family dining room table. They never took those trips.
When Mr. Naylor turned 80, he and his wife took their first air flight to Florida. Southwest Airlines toasted them as the eldest first-fliers that day out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport. After reaching their destination, they watched their son and grandsons in a softball tournament.
Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Burgee-Henns-Seitz Funeral Home, 3631 Falls Road.
In addition to his son, survivors include a daughter, Bonita Gisriel of Ocean City; nine grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. His wife of 65 years, the former Ann Estelle Finch, died in 2003.