Black turned his life around and spent years helping others

A Life Remembered

A Life Remembered

December 23, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Carl Bert Black Sr., who died Dec. 16 at the age of 72. His obituary was published in The Herald-Mail on Dec. 18.

The late Jimmy Resh, who founded the Hagerstown Rescue Mission more than 50 years ago, took a chance in early 1959 on Carl Bert Black, the first prison parolee the mission ever accepted.

Even more significant, Resh didn't stand in the way when his own daughter, Dorcas, showed an interest in Carl.

"I was practicing piano at the mission the first time I met him," Dorcas said. "When he walked through the room, I just stopped and stared."

Although Carl didn't notice Dorcas then, over time they became acquainted. "Dad was very strict ... he didn't want us to get involved with mission men," Dorcas said.


But the relationship grew and on Aug. 23, 1959, at 9:10 p.m., Dorcas was with Carl when he gave his life over to God at the South Mountain Bible Church.

"Something tugged at Carl's heart that night," Dorcas said. "Carl never smoked or drank after that night and he broke all ties with his old friends."

Eleven months later, Carl and Dorcas were married. They marked their 47th wedding anniversary in July with their family, which includes two sons and their own families.

When Carl first came to the mission on North Prospect Street, the Resh family was living in an apartment behind the dining room.

Although Carl was living elsewhere, he had to report to the mission every day to fulfill his parole requirements. Serving prison time for burglary and larceny, Carl met his parole officer every day at the mission.

"Carl worked very hard," Dorcas said, remembering those early days.

In time, he became superintendent of the mission, ministering to the men, and even cooking.

Son Curtis Black said his dad was determined not to ever go back to prison. "And he never did," Curtis said.

Carl Black Jr. described his father as a tough dad, but one who always could be counted on for fun vacations, many of which were spur of the moment.

Known for his ability to fix just about anything, Carl once rigged up a homemade electrical device that would shock worms out of the ground for fishing trips.

And then there were the father/sons hunting trips that brought smiles to both sons' faces.

"I was always so noisy," Curtis admitted.

And Carl Jr. concurred that when Curtis was in the woods, the deer were safe.

Serving in the military in Germany, grandson Zachary Black was unable to get back to Hagerstown before his "Pappy" died, but was in town for the funeral on Dec. 20.

"He would always talk to us with the wisdom he had acquired during his years," Zachary said.

Adrian Black said "Pappy" helped him with his spiritual life. "He helped me grow closer to God," Adrian said.

Erica Doyle, Carl and Dorcas' only granddaughter, said she remembers "Pappy" giving her a yellow rose in a vase on her 18th birthday. Now 20, Erica said she always will treasure that yellow rose, which is pressed in a book.

"Carl would ask about the grandchildren all the time," said Carl Jr.'s wife, Brenda.

Family was important to Carl. But in reality, Carl had two families - his own and the mission family.

"He was a great cook ... turkey, lasagna, stuffing and so many soups," Dorcas said.

Carl cooked the Thanksgiving dinner at the mission this year even though he was sick.

The family always gathered on Christmas Eve at the Black home. "We always then spent Christmas at the mission," Dorcas said.

In a published report on the occasion of Jimmy Resh's death in 1996, Carl said his life was completely turned around when he came to the Hagerstown Rescue Mission.

"I was going to hell and I deserved to go to hell," Carl said then.

But after he came to know Jimmy Resh and accepted Christ in his life, all that changed.

"Carl truly loved the Word of God," Dorcas said. "He left his King James Bible open on the kitchen table when we took him to the hospital."

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