Charles G. Gaskins Sr., a retired city public schools principal who earlier had been a physical education teacher and coach, died Oct. 27 of complications from heart disease at his Catonsville home. He was 88.
Charles Gilbert Gaskins Sr., son of James Whittier Gaskins, a construction worker, and his wife, Anna Roberta Gaskins, a homemaker, was born and raised in Baltimore.
After graduating from Frederick Douglass High School in 1950, he earned a bachelor’s degree at Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, in Hampton, Virginia, where he played varsity football. While at Hampton, he met and fell in love with a fellow student, the former Grace Manning, whom he married in 1953.
“We met at a dance he had sneaked in through a window to attend,” Mrs. Gaskins told The Afro-American in a 1968 interview. “I didn’t know that until later.”
After serving in the Army for two years, Mr. Gaskins returned with his wife to Baltimore. He began his career in 1954 as a physical education teacher in city public schools, while she became city schools guidance counselor. She died in 1993.
Mr. Gaskins, who was known as “Charlie G,” taught at Samuel Gompers Vocational School where he also coached the basketball team. In 1975, he earned a master’s degree in education from what is now Loyola University Maryland. He also worked part-time for the city Department of Welfare, according to an Afro-American news story.
He was later promoted to vice principal and served as principal at several schools, including the Calverton Adult Education Center, from which he retired in 1986. “Whenever they needed a strong male presence, they hired him as principal,” said a son, Gregory Gaskins of Owings Mills.
Audrey J. Buchanon, a White Marsh resident, taught at Calverton Adult Education Center with Mr. Gaskins.
“He was absolutely a great teacher and administrator, and he was my principal. He was just a great man,” Ms. Buchanon said.
“He had lots of patience with the students who looked up and respected him at all times,” she said. “He was a very fair man and if you had a problem, he was always there and willing to listen and get you back on the right path. He did the same of his students.”
Mr. Gaskins also enjoyed working summers at the George F. Bragg Nature Study Center in Catonsville where he instructed and mentored male youths.
A deeply religious man, he was an active member for more than 40 years of Gospel Tabernacle Baptist Church where he had been Sunday school superintendent, and for the past 25 years, had been a member and deacon at Heritage United Church of Christ. He also liked engaging in biblical discussions, family members said.
He and his wife enjoyed taking their children with along with other family members and neighbors to such destinations as the Bahamas, Canada and Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, where he and his family were “mistaken for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and family,” his son said.
Mr. Gaskins also liked watching sports and movies, and completing crossword puzzles. His musical tastes were wide-ranging, and included jazz, soul, blues and hymns. Favorite artists included Bobby Womack, Bill Withers, Barry White, and Gladys Knight & the Pips.
He looked forward to monthly dinners with his brothers, a favorite uncle, and their wives, and other family gatherings.
Mr. Gaskins remained a loyal and active financial supporter of the Hampton University Alumni Association, and one of his last memorable trips was when another son, Charles G. “Chuck” Gaskins Jr. of Catonsville, drove him to Hampton for a campus visit and to spend time with his close friend and former college roommate, William “Billy” Evans.
“He was a man of valor and a champion with a heart for God,” according to a biographical profile of Mr. Gaskins submitted by his family. “He was a strong advocate for his family and will be sorely missed.”
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Wylie Funeral Home, 9200 Liberty Road, Randallstown, with interment in Arbutus Memorial Park.
In addition to his two sons, Mr. Gaskins is survived by a daughter, Cori Gaskins of Owings Mills; a brother, Vernon Gaskins of Randallstown; three grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and several nieces and nephews. His companion of 25 years, Mary Ervin, died earlier this year.