Melvin B. Tuggle II, clergyman who preached medical awareness, dies

The Rev. Melvin B. Tuggle II, pastor of a Homestead Street church who worked to bring preventive medicine and health awareness to East Baltimore residents, died of complications of diabetes Oct. 17 at Good Samaritan Hospital.

He was 68 and lived in Nottingham.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Melvin B. Tuggle Jr., a city housing inspector, and his wife, Gladys M. Dangerfield, a homemaker.

He attended Lombard Junior High School and was a 1968 graduate of Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School.

He studied political science at Louisiana Technical University and obtained a degree in philosophy at the Christian Unity Academy in Chocowinity, N.C. He also held an honorary doctorate from the Virginia University of Lynchburg.

He served in the Air Force for a decade, then joined the Baltimore City Department of Human Resources, where he served into the 1980s.

After receiving his seminary training, he became pastor of the Garden of Prayer Baptist Church on Homestead Street. He advocated screenings for diabetes and other conditions for those in the community, and worked closely with the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

“Our work together has a long history of over four decades,” said Lee R. Bone, an associate professor of health, behavior and society at the Bloomberg School. “Our partnership goal was to develop and disseminate a national model in how, together, we can improve the health and quality of lives of East Baltimore residents and beyond.

“Rev. Tuggle’s commitment, energy and persistence as a church and community leader and servant … are remarkable attributes which we all cherish,” she added.

He also preached that immunizations were essential for community health.

"The health departments have the remedy, but what good is it if people won't take it? We at the churches can make them take it," he said in a 1998 article in The Baltimore Sun.

In a letter to the newspaper in 2002, he wrote: “Baltimore, in particular, has a disproportionately high prostate cancer mortality rate compared with other the counties in Maryland. Moreover, the mortality rate for black men is twice as high as for white men.”

He went on to say that a medical program he was involved with provided more than 800 no-cost prostate cancer screenings to men, and urged officials to be proactive in supporting such efforts.

“This is the kind of person that basically we need more of now,” said Ms. Bone.

Mr. Tuggle was also a past president of Clergy United for Renewal of East Baltimore.

A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Friday at Huber Memorial Church, 5700 Loch Raven Boulevard.

Survivors include his wife of 31 years, Brenda McLean, a retired Baltimore City schools reading specialist; a son, Melvin B. Tuggle III; daughters Darnyell Tuggle, Toairay Tuggle-Lewis, Katrina Wilson and Tierra Tuggle, all of Baltimore; 12 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

— Jacques Kelly

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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