The Daily Mail, Hagerstown, Md., Saturday, March 18, 1978
CHARLES S. FULLER - A member of one of this area's most exclusive clubs. It excludes from membership anyone who has not donated 120 pints of blood to the Red Cross.
"What's so great about giving blood?" asks Charlie Fuller. "I mean, it's no big deal."
He's so adamant on this point that he's always flatly refused to pose for photos when he reached each successive milestone as a blood donor. When he made the donation that qualified him as a 15-Gallon Club member more that a year ago, he begged off that he was to busy in his job to take time for an interview.
"Now I've retired from the job," Charlie grins sheepishly, so I've run out of excuses. But I still say that giving blood is no big deal. The good lord gave me a body healthy enough to produce the blood, my employer always gave me time off to go to the blood center, and all the nurses and Red Cross volunteers did all the work. All I ever did was lie there comfortably on a cot with my shirtsleeve rolled up."
Which is Charlie's was of minimizing his own role in the continuing drama of blood collection for transfusion use in hospitals, the year-around function of the Red Cross Blood Program. What he doesn't articulate usually are his intimate thoughts when he's lying on a cot at the blood center.
" well, I have to admit," Charlie say with some fervor, "there really is a thrill to giving blood, too. I mean, you're lying there and your blood is flowing into a plastic bag, and later your drinking a cup of coffee and eating a donut. That's all there is to it. Yet you know that in a few days your pint of blood can be flowing into the veins of a youngster injured in some accident, a young person undergoing surgery or maybe someone with anemia or some other condition. You never know the recipient, and that is what is so great. He doesn't know you, either. so it's an anonymous gift - the best way to give, without anticipation of any thanks.
Charlies retired as vice president of Tristate Electrical Supply Co., Inc. early this year, after more than 40 years with that local firm. His career as a blood donor started than three decades ago, during World War II, when the Red Cross was collecting blood for use by our armed forces overseas.
"Our company was classified as a Defense Supplier," Charles recalls, "so a certain percentage of our workers were considered essential to the war effort in the their civilian jobs. I was in that number and I wanted to be doing something more that just holding down my regualr job. That's why I followed throught after I read some stores in the newspaper about blood donors being needed. Once I'd given the first pint, I couldn't see any reason not to keep on giving."
No one was more surprised that Charlie when he completed nearly 42 years with Tristate before his retirement. He could remember so well wondering if he ever would be able to find a job that would last more than a few years.
"I graduated from Hagerstown High in 1930," Charlie explains, "which means that my classmates and I graduated right into the Depression. Ours was the first class to attend all four years at Northern Middle School in on the drawing board because school officials feel that the one-time high school is obsolete."
Charlie's school day had bracketed the Roaring Twenties, when our nation was enjoying its post-World War boom, Everything was bright and beautiful in those days as the motor car was coming into its ascendency, as theatres became moviehouses and every home boasted its own radio-the marvel that brought music and entertainment into the living room with no need to crank a handle. The
second of the seven children of railroad yardmaster Crist Fuller and his wife, Grace, Charlie remembered those big headlines about the Wall Street crash early in his senior year, but never dreamed that the event would have a bearing on his life.
"Of course it did," he looks back now, "because it didn't affect just stockholders. Businesses went bankrupt, plants shut down, people stood in line for handouts of food. I was lucky. I managed to get a job at J.W. Meyers, the wholesale grocer. That lasted for three years, then a buddy of mine, Fred Mowen, told me about an opening at Hagerstown Shoe & Legging. Not too many months later he talked me into going to the Waynesboro Shoe factory, which was just opening...where he said I'd get a chance to start on the ground floor. Only that floor gave was a few months later and the factory closed.
His next short-term job was managing the bowling alleys in the basement of the Lakin Apartments, next to the Maryland Theatre, with his next younger brother, Wade. That lasted a few months, so he was enemployed when Fred Mowen can galloping to the rescue again.
"Fred was a very close friend," Charlie points out, "and he was up to the day of his sudden death recently. Back then, though, it seemed he always was trying to find me a job. He finally scored when he sent me to Tristate. He was going with Vivian Ramsey, Whom he later married, and he had heard that Vivian's brother, Bill, was going to Roanoke to open a Tristate outlet there. He figured that by the domino effect that would have to create an opening locally, so I went and applied. And was hired, first as a warehouseman."
Charlie soon was switched to purchasing and his long tenure with the local electrical supply house began. But that didn't end Fred Mowans personal job placement service. During World War II, when Fred was ensconced in his own job at the Western Maryland Railray, he suddenly needed a secretary. This time he recruited Charlie's wife, the former Ruth E. Byers. She was able to retire from her railroad job last year after 34 1/2 years.
We made sure that our retirements almost coincided," Charlie notes, "so that we'd be able to start planning our retirement projects together. So far, it has mostly been jobs that Ruth wants for me to do around the house-which I never get around to doing. I always figure that any job can be put off 'until the weather breaks,' and it hasn't broken yet."
The Fullers built their home at 1318 The Terrace 30 years ago. In fact, they moved in on Valentine's day of 1948. Ruth has a long list of repairs and painting jobs that "just have to be done now." Charlie has several travel brochures of places that the two of them could tour. They've had a taste of traveling abroad on two trips to Switzerland, plus jaunts to Mexico, Acapulco and Nassau, so he'd like to do some more junketing.
"I figure," say Charlie, "that after we do some traveling we'll be ready to settle down and get another dog. We've had two dogs whom we loved dearly, eventually losing each to old age. 'Tinker' was part-cocker, part-spitz; his successor, 'Ted' a puli." Although he claims that he currently is devoting his time to seeking better, more efficient ways to loaf, Charlie is too accustomed to being active to selltl for inactivity very long. Before retiring as vice president and board member of Tristate Electrical Supply, he had been in charge of the firm's inventory and properties. When Tristate fitted to the Dual Highway a few years back, from its longtime location in the first block of South Potomac Street, he was coordinator of the contruction of its new warehouse and store facilities.
"Oh, I'll keep busy," says Charlies. "I just finished an audit for Friendship Lodge 84, AF & AM, for instance. I'm a past master and have been secretary of the lodge for the past 22 years. I'm a member of the Tall Cedars, too, so I'll always find something to keep me busy, besides working in our yard and around the house.
So says the unretiring retiree, who also has no plans for terminating his career as a blood donor. He has given five pints of blood since reaching the 15-gallon mark, so he has just three more to go before completing his 16th gallon.