Charles T. “Charlie” O’Donnell, a retired Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. general services supervisor who was the public face of the utility during storms and other disasters, died of complications from COVID-19 on July 14 at his Towson home. He was 90.
Charles Thomas O’Donnell, son of Francis O’Donnell, a Washington Navy Yard worker, and Mary O’Donnell, was born one of eight siblings in Baltimore and was raised in Waverly near the old Oriole Park.
“As a child, Charlie had rheumatic fever and his family would frequently send him to Happy Hills in Mount Washington, which is now the Mount Washington Pediatric Hospital. He was surprised when he came home one time and he had a new baby brother,” said his wife of five years, Nancy Stauffer Harting, a semiretired real estate agent. “He missed time from school because of his health and graduated later.”
Mr. O’Donnell was a graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering.
He began his career with BGE in 1955 and for years he was general services supervisor at the utility’s Cockeysville station at York and Warren roads, which was responsible for providing gas and electric service to the greater metro area, his wife said.
During extreme weather events, Mr. O’Donnell spoke on behalf of the utility on power outages for TV reports.
“The TV stations would call and ask him about power outages in the area caused by hurricanes, snowstorms and thunderstorms. I remember seeing him on TV back in the 1980s, and I remembered that when I first met him in the 1990s,” Ms. Harting said. “Back during the Blizzard of ‘96, he walked to work. Charlie was a very loyal employee.”
Mr. O’Donnell, who lived on Cowpens Avenue in Towson, retired in 2000.
He and his wife were avid Orioles fans. “We used to take the Light Rail to the games, and he was also a Ravens fan,” Ms. Harting said.
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He was a member of the Wednesday Writers, a writing club, that had been founded by Betty Walters at the Renaissance Institute.
Mr. O’Donnell helped men in recovery and established several programs that benefited them.
“All Charlie wanted to do was help people and lend them a helping hand,” his wife said.
Mr. O’Donnell donated his body to the Maryland State Anatomy Board.
He was a communicant of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in downtown Baltimore and Trinity Episcopal Church in Towson, where a memorial service was held Saturday.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Kathy Barber of Mount Airy and Trish Powers of Lutherville, and five grandchildren. His son, George O’Donnell, died in 2018. His marriage to Rose O’Donnell ended in divorce.