Bishop C. Helfenbein, who ran a butcher stall in the Belair Market for 58 years and was longtime president of the stall merchants association, died yesterday at Brook Grove Nursing Home in Olney after a long illness.
He was 83.
One of the old breed of German butchers in the city markets, Mr. Helfenbein was a sarcastic yet effective advocate for the Belair Market stall operators for many years until his retirement in 1983.
He was instrumental in convincing City Hall to rebuild the citymarkets in the 1970s, proclaiming the modern, festive-lookingstructures the precursors of Harborplace.
Mr. Helfenbein began his career as a 10-year-old in his uncle's Belair Market butcher stall.
Later he raised the $2,000 needed to buy the rights to start his own open-air stall at the market in 1925.
Because the markets were open only on certain days in the week, Mr. Helfenbein also worked as a furniture factory representative for many years.
His wife, Evelyn, worked with him at the meat stall for many years.
His son and then his granddaughter also worked in the family business.
"He's a quick-talking, active man with a mind that charges on faster than the escalation of the price of a Smithfield ham," columnist Jacques Kelly wrote of him in 1982. "Some people would call him a persistent Dutchman, others say he is the best thing that ever happened to Belair Market."
He was born in Baltimore, son of the late Christian and Ella Lessie Helfenbein. He graduated from the Polytechnic Institute and the Maryland Institute of Marine Drafting.
He married Evelyn May Taylor in 1930.
She died in 1988.
Mr. Helfenbein's passion was motor boating, at the helm of the classic 1930 Richardson cruiser which his family acquired in 1945.
He was a member of the Classic Yacht Club of America, Maryland Yacht Club, Kent Island Yacht Club and Boumi Temple Yacht Club and the Richardson Boat Owners Association.
He was also a charter member of the Maryland Wholesale Furniture Association and was a member of the Scottish Rite of the Sharon Masonic lodge and Boumi Temple.
He was a member of St. Matthew's Evangelical and Reformed Church of Christ.
Mr. Helfenbein is survived by a son, Christian Helfenbein of Columbia; a daughter, Ann H. Bohnet of Silver Spring; a sister, Norma McCulloh of Laurel; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
Services will be held at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Leonard J.Ruck Funeral Home, 5305 Harford Road.