For Grant Lackey, the routine never varied.
Year after year, six days a week, Mr. Lackey rose at 3 a.m. in his Reservoir Hill rowhouse and dressed in coveralls and a brown cap.
By 6: 30 a.m., he was on the corner waiting for a No. 5 transit bus and, after transferring to a No. 35 bus, arrived for work at Pulaski Tire Service in the 7800 block of Pulaski Highway in Rosedale, where he had been employed since the early 1970s.
Mr. Lackey, 98, died Sunday of a heart attack at his home.
Vernell DeShazo, who is a partner at the 24-hour-a-day tire company, said Mr. Lackey worked several days last week but really "wasn't 100 percent."
"So, we sensed something was wrong," he said in an interview yesterday. "The only thing he complained about, however, was a hernia and a corn on his foot."
A fixture among motorists and truckers who travel Pulaski Highway, Mr. Lackey was "so well-known and people were always coming in and asking, 'Is that old man still here?' " Mr. DeShazo said.
Mr. Lackey's job was to paint Mayer's Black Tie Paint on the used tires, which the company purchased from salvage yards and repaired. It was common for Mr. Lackey's workday to extend to beyond 7 p.m. when there were piles of tires to be painted and checked for sale.
One of his favorite stories, which he proudly repeated, concerned a woman who came in and complained after being shown one of his tires. It seems she wanted to buy a used one.
"There was nothing he didn't know about tires. He was still changing truck tires into his early 90s. He really knew everything about tires and rims. He'd work on some of the most dangerous rims in the world. Just one look and he knew how it came off. He'd say, 'Let me show you how to do this, boy,' and we learned how to do it safely and the right way," said Mr. DeShazo.
"He also knew every make and every tire we had in stock. If it was rubber and on a rim, he knew about it," he added, laughing.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Mr. Lackey learned blacksmithing and, after serving as a cook in France during World War I, settled in Baltimore.
He had been a butcher and longshoreman, and operated his own tire-repair service until joining the DeShazo family business.
Known as a hearty eater and a strong man, Mr. Lackey was in his 80s when a tire blew off a wheel and broke his thigh, which his co-workers thought would end his career.
"We never thought he'd walk again, but he healed up real nice, like a young man," said Mr. DeShazo.
Mr. Lackey was married in 1940 to the former Inez Tongue, who died in 1974.
Services for Mr. Lackey will be held at 10: 30 a.m. Wednesday at the Gary P. March Funeral Home, 270 Fredhilton Pass, Baltimore.
He is survived by his daughter, Charlotte Partridge of Edgewood; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
Pub Date: 2/27/99