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Dr. Theodore O. Randolph, 104, teacher


Dr. Theodore O. Randolph had a three-part daily philosophy for longevity: eight hours of sleep, eight hours of recreation and eight hours of work.

The regime exceeded his expectations.

Dr. Randolph, a former city schoolteacher, World War I veteran, volunteer for numerous organizations and longtime Baltimore resident, died Friday of heart failure at Greater Baltimore Medical Center. He was 104.

"He never did anything halfway or not to his fullest," said his wife, the former Beatrice Nimmons, whom he married in 1963. "I just could never get him to slow down."

He never used the fact that he was a centenarian as a reason for not doing something.

For instance, during the blizzard of 1993, when Dr. Randolph was 100 years old, he offered to help his wife, whose car had become stuck on snow and ice at the bottom of a hill at Argonne Drive and The Alameda near his Northeast Baltimore home.

His wife thought he was going to check on road conditions when he got out of the car. Instead he pushed it nearly a quarter-mile up the hill.

"I didn't know what to think. I was behind the wheel and he was pushing it up the hill," Mrs. Randolph said. "It certainly surprised me."

A small, spry man with few wrinkles and a keen eye, Dr. Randolph exercised regularly at the The League on East Cold Spring Lane -- swimming twice a week and taking a wheelchair aerobics class, although he did not otherwise use a wheelchair.

L He always walked from his home on The Alameda to the center.

A native of Burlington, N.J., Dr. Randolph served in the Army from 1917 to 1919, stationed at Fort Meade and honored with a Victory Medal and Silver Medal upon his discharge.

Dr. Randolph graduated from Lincoln University in 1921 and received a master of arts and doctor of education degrees from Columbia University in 1932 and 1942, respectively.

His teaching career in Maryland began in the 1920s, when he taught on the Eastern Shore. He began teaching in Baltimore in )) 1932, when he taught math and science at Frederick Douglass High School, the former Booker T. Washington Junior High and at the old Charles Hamilton Houston School. He also taught psychology at the former Coppin Normal School and retired in 1963.

"He was a good teacher who had a quiet, firm [style] of teaching," said Ronald Smits, a former Douglass High student. "He was the kind of teacher where you didn't want to mess up because you didn't want to upset him."

In his retirement, he worked as a volunteer at the League (he was a lifetime board member), was active with the Boy Scouts for more than three decades, and worked as a volunteer at the Villa St. Michael Nursing Home in Northwest Baltimore.

Dr. Randolph was also a member of the Prince Hall Masons and Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

"He was just an incredible human being," said Diane Triplett, The League's director of therapeutic and aquatic wellness programs. was someone who was full of life and always looked for ways to be a positive force."

For more than 60 years, he was a member at Payne Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1714 Madison Ave. in West Baltimore, where services are scheduled for 10: 30 a.m. tomorrow.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a daughter, R'Gwen Chambers; a grandson, Morris Gough; and a granddaughter, Ciara Gough. All are of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 10/21/97

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