Battle of the Bulge veteran, Maryland auto dealerships owner Charles 'Cuppy' Fenwick dies
By JACQUES KELLY | The Baltimore Sun | Published: December 25, 2020
BALTIMORE (Tribune News Service) — Charles C. “Cuppy” Fenwick, who directed the Maryland Hunt Cup, owned automobile dealerships and was a decorated World War II veteran, died Dec. 16 at Sinai Hospital of complications from a fall he suffered at his home in Glyndon. He was 96.
Born and raised in the Glyndon area of Baltimore County, Mr. Fenwick was the youngest of six children. His parents were G. Bernard Fenwick, a gentleman farmer, and his wife, Margaret G. Fenwick, a homemaker who was the granddaughter of Arunah S. Abell, founder of The Baltimore Sun.
A 1942 graduate of the Gilman School, Mr. Fenwick attended Princeton University for a year before he enlisted in the Army and served in the infantry during World War II.
“I remembered him arriving at Gilman in a Model-T Ford. We younger students were both envious and impressed. Nobody had cars in those days,” said a friend, Truman Semans. “He was an outstanding Maryland gentleman.”
After landing at Normandy in September 1944, he fought in France and Belgium. He was a member of the Anti-Tank Company, 407th Infantry and had been trained in the use of explosives.
“He had a role in the Battle of the Bulge and laid strategic mines during the Christmas Eve fighting,” said his son, Peter R. Fenwick of Reisterstown. “He earned a Bronze Star, but like many in his generation, he did not talk about this.”
After leaving the military, Mr. Fenwick married Rosalie Bruce and they had four sons. The marriage ended in divorce. In 1963 he married Elizabeth White, and together they had one son.
Mr. Fenwick began his professional career as a clerk with the United States Lines in the Port of Baltimore. He later co-founded Fenwick, Michaels and Downes, the predecessor of Riggs, Counselman, Michaels & Downes, now RCM&D, an insurance firm.
He was also affiliated with Robert Garrett and Sons and worked on its merger with Alex. Brown and Sons.
“He was a sharp businessman and a thorough gentleman,” said Jack Symington “Jay” Griswold, a friend and a business associate. “He worked through personal relationships and was very good at them.”
His son said that in 1962 Mr. Fenwick acquired the rights to sell Volkswagen cars in Maryland and opened his first dealership, Towson Valley Motors.
“He was aware of the Volkswagen product and asked to be a distributor, but because of his lack of experience, he was made a dealer,” said his son. “He opened in a little rented building behind Hutzler’s Towson and sold Beetles in the only color available to him — black. He had no space for an inventory and parked the unsold vehicles at his farm.”
Mr. Fenwick’s dealership quickly expanded to include Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Subaru and Porsche. He outgrew several locations and moved several times before establishing the business on York Road in Hunt Valley with the name Valley Motors.
In addition, Mr. Fenwick became a partner with William Kidd Sr. to open Bill Kidd’s Toyota/Volvo in Cockeysville.
Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, a friend, said: “Cuppy was curious about everything and had a thorough knowledge of international or national politics — or whatever the hot topic was. He was just a stalwart. I looked forward to being with him.”
His son said Mr. Fenwick spent all of his life on the farm where he grew up. He cultivated a love of the outdoors, including bird hunting and riding horses.
His son said Mr. Fenwick, unlike some of his relatives, was not a steeplechase jockey himself.
“My father served as the director of the Maryland Hunt Cup for more than 30 of the race’s 125-year history,” his son said.
The Maryland Hunt Cup steeplechase race was run on the farm adjacent to his home and the nearby Green Spring Valley Hounds, a club where he was a member.
“Mr. Fenwick was the patriarch of one of the country’s best-known steeplechase families, and I doubt if he ever missed a Maryland Hunt Cup throughout his entire 96-year-old life,” said Ross Peddicord, executive director of the Maryland Horse Industry Board and former Sun and Evening Sun horse racing reporter.
Mr. Peddicord also said: “The name Fenwick is synonymous with horses in Maryland and for good reason. They’ve won just about every timber race in America as well as the English Grand National. And they keep on coming, generation after generation. Tommy Fenwick is the Generation Z version, and he’s winning races, too.”
In his later years, Mr. Fenwick spent most afternoons hiking through the woods around his farm accompanied by his wife and their dogs.
J. Dorsey Brown, a friend, said: “Cuppy was an honest and sincere person, which is the reason he had so much success in business. He loved horses and thoroughbreds and birding — everything from eagles to wrens.”
Mr. Fenwick also served on the board of the former Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, for many years. He was a lifetime member of Sacred Heart Church in Glyndon.
In addition to his son, survivors include his wife of 57 years, Elizabeth W. Fenwick; four other sons, Charles C. Fenwick Jr. of Butler, H. Bruce Fenwick of Reisterstown, Edwin Abell Fenwick of Walden, Colorado, and John G. Fenwick of Brunswick, Maine; a sister, Frances F. Edelen of Timonium; nine grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.
Services and interment will be private.
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