Bess Goldsmith, benefactor's mother She once ran Baltimore grocery

March 12, 1993|By Staff Report

Bess Goldsmith, mother of the late Harold N. Goldsmith, a prominent Baltimore entrepreneur and philanthropist, died Wednesday of injuries suffered when she was knocked to the ground in a purse-snatching in Florida Tuesday night. She was 75.

Mrs. Goldsmith was attacked as she was returning with friends to her winter home in Hallandale, Fla., at 10:45 p.m. after watching greyhound races, police there said.

She was climbing the steps of her condominium building when an assailant yanked her handbag from her shoulder, sending her tumbling backward to the pavement. She hit her head and died '' 18 hours later at Memorial Hospital in nearby Hollywood, Fla.

The Broward County Medical Examiner's Office ruled the death a homicide, because it occurred as a result of the robbery. Police in Hallandale, an affluent, predominantly elderly community, /^ were seeking two men, the purse snatcher and the driver of a white Toyota used as a getaway car.

Mrs. Goldsmith's death came just two years after the death of her son, co-founder of the Merry-Go-Round Enterprises clothing chain and owner of Eastern Savings Bank, in a plane crash in Colorado.

"It's just devastated all of us," said Beth Goldsmith, Harold Goldsmith's widow and chairwoman of the board of Eastern Savings Bank and president of the Goldsmith Family Foundation. "She was a wonderful, warm, loving person."

Rabbi Joel Zaiman of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, where Mrs. Goldsmith was a member for many years, described her as "a remarkably vibrant, alive woman."

Friends said she walked three or four miles a day and enjoyed bridge games at the Summit Country Club during the eight months of the year she lived at Annen Woods apartments in Pikesville.

Born Bess Albert in Baltimore in 1917, she lost her mother in the flu epidemic the next year and was reared by family friends, her daughter-in-law said. She graduated from Western High School and married Henry Goldsmith in 1937.

The couple ran a small grocery store on Reservoir Street in West Baltimore, and Mrs. Goldsmith was working behind the cash register when she went into labor to give birth to Harold in 1942. Later, she kept the books for her husband's small real estate holdings, until his death in 1979.

Harold Goldsmith, meanwhile, was building his own business empire, beginning with a handful of rowhouses given to him as a bar mitzvah gift at the age of 13. Its core was his partnership with Leonard "Boogie" Weinglass in Merry-Go-Round, a chain of trendy clothing shops.

Mrs. Goldsmith is survived by her daughter, Ilene Powers, and six grandchildren, all of Baltimore.

Services will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home, 6010 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Goldsmith Early Childhood Center at Chizuk Amuno Congregation.

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