Becker, owner of clothing store

B. B.

January 23, 1995|By Victor Paul Alvarez | Victor Paul Alvarez,Contributing Writer

Bernard B. Becker, owner of Becker's, one of Baltimore's last full-line men's clothing stores, died of a stroke yesterday at Sinai Hospital. He was 86.

"He certainly ran a top-notch business, above and beyond any other, the likes of which are not in existence today," said Albert Vincent Murray, an employee of 54 years and friend of Mr. Becker. "He was a very fine gentleman."

Mr. Murray was among the many employees who were loyal to Mr. Becker through the years.

"He had the kind of employees who didn't leave him," Mr. Murray said. "We used to say the cut-off age [for retirement] was about 80, he handled his help very well."

Mr. Becker was born in Baltimore in 1908 and graduated from City College in 1925.

He had planned to attend medical school after graduating from the University of Maryland in 1929. But he spent that summer working in his father's clothing store in the 3100 block of Greenmount Ave. He fell in love with the business of selling fine clothes, and he fell in love with the store.

Mr. Becker took pride in his store, a monument to pre-World War II Baltimore with its perfectly maintained art deco walnut and oak showcases and carefully dressed display windows.

"I think my father handled and touched each hat there every day," for the 66 years that he worked there, said his daughter Joanie Becker Cohen of Baltimore.

"Hats were his real favorite. He'd go through the cases when they came in to make sure that each of them looked great and perfect. The hats were his baby," she said.

Becker's clothing store was founded in 1909 by Mr. Becker's father, the late Jacob Becker.

For 66 years Mr. Becker could be found there every day of the week but Wednesday.

Mr. Becker was a charter member of the Bonnie View Country Club on Smith Avenue, a longtime member of the Beth Tfiloh Synagogue and president of the old Baltimore Washington Menswear group.

"They had these big conventions and outings every year, and every year he was nominated 'best dressed,' " Ms. Becker Cohen said.

"We had him for a long time, it would be his choice to go first," said his wife of 61 years, Ada Becker. "He lived the kind of life that any man would want to live." Besides his wife and daughter, survivors include another daughter, Barbara Becker of Florida; a son, Dr. Larry Becker of Baltimore; 10 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren.

Services were to be held at 1 p.m. today at Sol Levinson and Bros., 6010 Reisterstown Road.

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