Albert Weitzman, philanthropist and founder of Display Craft Manufacturing Co. Inc., died Saturday of complications after surgery at Sinai Hospital. The Pikesville resident was 73.
With his mustering-out pay from World War II, Mr. Weitzman founded the architectural woodworking and fixtures firm in 1946.
"He got back from Panama on Saturday and was in business Monday after he rented half a floor in a warehouse on Commerce Street, bought some tag board, paint and glue, and began making birdhouses for spring displays," said his wife of 52 years, the former Evelyn Lessans.
"After selling the displays to an old friend, Nat Levy, he bought a pot-bellied stove for the warehouse so he could keep warm," Mrs. Weitzman recalled.
"A shoe store owner on Edmondson Avenue asked him to make a wrapping counter. He had never made one but figured he could do it, and bought the wood and completed it. Later, he made some cabinets for the Hess Shoe Store that was opening in the Edmondson Village Shopping Center, and after attending the opening party, I said to him, 'You've come a long way on Edmondson Avenue, Al,' " Mrs. Weitzman said.
The firm employs 52 workers at its Halethorpe, Baltimore County, plant where expensive woods are shaped by precision carpentry equipment.
At his death, Mr. Weitzman was chairman of the company that is run by his sons, Ronald Weitzman of Pikesville and Stuart Weitzman of Owings Mills.
The business has supplied cabinets and woodwork to Dulles Airport in Virginia, major shopping malls and local buildings such as the new Towson courthouse.
Linda Cohen, a daughter who lives in Pikesville, said her father gained success due to "a mixture of his astute analysis of people and economics combined with his insistence that the finished manufactured product be only the finest in quality."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mr. Weitzman's family moved to Baltimore's Pimlico section when he was 15. He left Forest Park High School to help support his family.
He was drafted in 1942 and served in the Army at Aberdeen Proving Ground and then was assigned to the Army Air Corps in PTC the intelligence unit in Panama. He was discharged with the rank of private in 1946.
In 1948, he built his home on Winner Avenue.
The couple later resided on Slade Avenue in Pikesville and had a winter home in Pompano Beach, Fla.
He was a lifelong member of Oheb Shalom Synagogue, and was active in numerous charities in both Baltimore and Israel.
Mr. and Mrs. Weitzman were recently honored as humanitarians of the year by the American Committee of Shaare Zadek Hospital in Jerusalem, to which they donated a laser machine for prostate surgery, the first such machine in the Middle East.
Other survivors include a brother, Herman Weitzman of Baltimore; a sister, Ruth Hurwitz of Bethesda; and five grandchildren.
Services were held Sunday.