Harold Goldsmith, part of 'Diner' gang

February 15, 1991|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,Evening Sun Staff

Harold N. Goldsmith, a member of the 1950s Hilltop Diner gang depicted in the film "Diner" who went on to shape a financial and retail empire, was killed Wednesday when his chartered jet crashed in a light snow near Aspen, Colo.,

Services for Mr. Goldsmith will be held at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Chizuk Amuno Congregation, 8100 Stevenson Road in Pikesville. Burial will follow at the Arlington Chizuk Amuno Cemetery on Rogers Avenue.

Mr. Goldsmith, 49, co-founded with Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass another person depicted in the popular rite-of-passage movie produced by Baltimorean Barry Levinson -- the Merry-Go-Round retail clothing chain and was head of the Eastern Savings Bank in Baltimore.

Mr. Goldsmith also was a respected philanthropist who helped raise millions of dollars for his favorite organizations.

"He sparked an entire generation of young men and women to be Jewish communal leaders," said Martin L. Waxman, vice president of the Associated Jewish Charities.

Michael Surgen, executive vice president of Eastern Savings, who knew Goldsmith for 10 years, said he "was highly successful but never stepped on people's toes to get where he is."

Mr. Goldsmith was described as a skinny kid who grew up in Pimlico but quickly established his intelligence and skipped a few grades of school. During that time, he began hanging out at the Hilltop Diner with Weinglass, Levinson and others who were a few years older.

Mr. Goldsmith graduated from Baltimore City College in 1959 and later from the University of Maryland at College Park.

In 1970, he and Weinglass started Merry-Go-Round Enterprises. The two men parlayed their original investment into what the business is today -- 700 stores in 38 states worth more than $150 million at the end of the 1991 fiscal year, a spokesman said today.

Ten years ago, Mr. Goldsmith bought Eastern Savings Bank. As president and chairman of the board, he expanded the bank to seven branches in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

He also directed his energy and business acumen toward charitable fund-raising.

Mr. Goldsmith was the benefactor of the Harold and Beth Goldsmith Educational Center in Beer Sheva, Israel.

Mr. Goldsmith owned an estate in the Green Spring Valley, but he, his wife and their young child spent most of their time at their home in Aspen, according to friends.

Survivors include his wife, the former Beth Himmelstein; two sons, Adam Drew Goldsmith of Baltimore and Henry Josh Goldsmith of Aspen; a daughter, Julie Beth Goldsmith; a sister, Ilene Powers; and his mother, Bess Goldsmith, all of Baltimore.

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