By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun
4:17 PM EDT, April 26, 2013
Frank Bond Sr., a retired Maryland Transit Administration bus driver and neighborhood activist who believed in the value of education, died Monday of colon cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson.
"Frank was a wonderful man who treasured education even though he was not an educated man," said W. Byron Forbush II, who retired in 1998 after 38 years as headmaster of Friends School.
"His three children went to Friends as well as two grandchildren," said Mr. Forbush. "He was so devoted and proud that his family was part of that institution. He was just a marvelous individual."
The son of a truck driver and a homemaker, Frank Bond Sr. was born in Baltimore — one of 10 children — and raised in the 200 block of N. Mount St.
"The Bond home was a sanctuary to the entire neighborhood, whether one was in need of nourishment for the body or spirit," said a son, Frank Bond Jr. of Mount Washington, who is a producer at the Newseum in Washington.
Mr. Bond withdrew from Frederick Douglass High School when he was in the ninth grade to go to work to help support his family.
He entered the Navy in 1945 and served for two years until being discharged as a steward's mate.
"This was the segregated Navy, and that's what he was able to do," his son said.
After he married Talmadge Bunn, an educator, in 1950, the couple settled into a two-story rowhouse in the 2100 block of Penrose Ave. that Mr. Bond had purchased with the help of a GI loan for $6,000.
After leaving the Navy, he worked as a civilian employee at the Curtis Bay Coast Guard Yard until taking a job as a bus driver for the old Baltimore Transit Co. in 1953.
"He was well-known and widely respected by customers and colleagues alike," his son said.
Mr. Bond worked out of the Bush Street bus barn in Southwest Baltimore — where he had been a shop steward for several years — and drove buses on the No. 23 and 51 lines.
"They traveled through the neighborhoods where most of his extended family lived," his son said. "He preferred taking two weekdays off and working an early-morning shift, which enabled him to fully participate in all aspects of family life."
He retired from what became the Maryland Transit Administration in 1988.
"With Frank, family and education always came first," said J. Sydney King, a retired WBAL-TV producer and host who lives in Roland Park.
When the Penrose Avenue neighborhood became overcrowded and began to deteriorate, Mr. Bond moved his family in 1963 to a home on Denison Road in Ashburton, where he remained for the rest of his life.
"This kind of living is new for blacks," Mr. Bond told The Baltimore Sun in a 1978 interview. "We came from a concrete-and-asphalt world. When we first came here, I would cut the grass and before you know it, it was time to cut it again. Then you had to start raking the leaves. Where I came from, I had a 14-foot front and all you had to do was sweep the sidewalk."
He added: "You come home late on a Friday night and you can't sleep the next morning because of all the birds chirping. It takes a while to adjust to all that. You have to change your way of living. … Living out here takes some adjusting, but it allows for a different kind of life. I love it. "
After moving to Ashburton, Mr. Bond immediately immersed himself in neighborhood affairs.
"When we first moved there, every street had its own association. He pulled them altogether and established the Ashburton Improvement Association," his son said.
The elder Mr. Bond served as the organization's president for several terms.
Mr. Bond became a highly recognizable figure during his daily walks or jogs around the reservoir in Hanlon Park.
In addition to his neighborhood advocacy, Mr. Bond became active at Grace and St. Peter's School and Friends School during the time his three children were students.
Mr. Bond returned to school and earned his General Education Development certificate in 1972.
"He said he wanted to get his high school diploma before his first child graduated from Hopkins," said his son with a laugh. "He always believed that education was the open door to opportunity."
In 2008, Mr. Bond and Sydney King mounted an effort to preserve a televised interview that Mr. Bond's father — James Emory Bond — had made in the WBAL-TV studios on TV Hill in 1964.
James Emery Bond had responded to a previously aired 90-minute WBAL-TV special that discussed the rising crime rate in Baltimore. When the show concluded, viewers were asked if they had any suggestions.
What followed made broadcasting history. Brent Gunts, the station's general manager, sat Mr. Bond in front of a camera where he gave his thoughts on racial discrimination, poverty and the joy of hard work. It was the first time an African-American had discussed those topics on unscripted TV.
The interview, "Conversation with James Emory Bond," was aired without commercials in prime time and brought hundreds of responses from viewers. The show earned an Emmy.
In 2008, Mr. King and Frank Bond were successful in getting a copy to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, where it became the center point of an exhibition, "One Night in '64. African American Voices and Television in the Civil Rights Era."
Mr. King said he will continue efforts to get another copy placed in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Mr. Bond's wife died in 2000.
He was a communicant of Grace & St. Peter's Episcopal Church, 707 Park Ave., where a Mass of Resurrection will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.
In addition to his son, Mr. Bond is survived by another son, Jay Bond of Ten Hills; a daughter, Saundra Joanne Bond of Ashburton; and four grandchildren.
Copyright © 2013, The Baltimore Sun