Robert Myers, advertising executive He met Gertrude Stein after Paris liberation

March 25, 1996|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Robert D. Myers, a retired Baltimore advertising executive and Civil War enthusiast who drank tea with famed author and art collector Gertrude Stein shortly after Paris was liberated during World War II, died March 14 of senile dementia at Church Home. The Stevenson resident was 78.

Mr. Myers, who began his advertising career as an office boy at 16 when he went to work for the Mahool Advertising Agency, retired as vice president of Emory Advertising in 1984.

He merged Mahool in 1961 with Peter Torrieri Advertising to create Torrieri-Myers Advertising, and was president of the combined firm until 1982, when it was merged into Emory Advertising.

Julian S. Stein, a retired advertising executive and friend from their days growing up together in Forest Park, said, "He did brilliantly in the advertising business. He wasn't a flamboyant ad man, but rather a darn good one."

Mr. Myers was active in civic affairs and was vice president of the Baltimore Junior Chamber of Commerce and a former board member of Sinai Hospital, Citizens' Planning and Housing Association, the Children's Guild, the Associated Charities and Welfare Fund and the United Way of Central Maryland.

He also was a past president of the Health and Welfare Council and the Jewish Family and Children's Services.

The 1932 graduate of Forest Park High School, who loved literature and history, enlisted in the Army in 1941.

As an administrative officer assigned to the 7th Army, he participated in the amphibious landings at Morocco in 1942 and later in the Sicilian and southern France campaigns.

He also was an eyewitness to the liberation of Dachau, the notorious German concentration camp near Munich. The experience, according to a daughter, Melissa Myers of Baltimore, "forever changed" her father.

He was awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service and seven campaign ribbons. He was discharged in 1945 with the rank of major.

One of Mr. Myers' favorite wartime tales that he delighted in recounting was his finding Gertrude Stein, who coined the expression "Lost Generation" to describe the expatriate American authors who fled to Paris in the 1920s, and Alice B. Toklas, her companion, in their apartment in the Rue Christine shortly after the city was liberated in 1944.

During the war years, the couple had moved several times to escape the Nazi occupation, abandoning their apartment and its contents.

"Bob was the kind of person who would eat that stuff up because he was so well-read and he was determined to find them," said Mr. Stein, who lives in Union Bridge and whose father was Stein's cousin.

For reasons that remain unknown to Mr. Stein, the Nazis did not disturb Stein's apartment or its walls, which were full of the works of Picasso, Degas and Matisse, art he acknowledges the Nazis would have described as "degenerate."

"She wasn't a bit stuffy and was full of vitality. Gertrude had a marvelous sense of humor and she could be terribly entertaining. I remember when she stayed with us on her visit to Baltimore in 1937, and she was great fun," said Mr. Stein.

The war had severed her link to Baltimore and she was anxious to hear the news of her family there, as well as local gossip.

"Bob was the link that had been cut during the war and the talk when he came to visit was exclusively about Baltimore. She was simply starved for news, and it had been six years since she had communicated with anyone there," said Mr. Stein.

In a letter to Baltimore dated Jan. 6, 1945, Stein wrote: "The Myers boy turned up today and it was such a pleasure to see him"; a letter written a month later related, "Boy Myers called on us the other day and we enjoyed his visit."

Another interest of Mr. Myers' was the Civil War.

In addition to assembling a large library on the subject, he wrote the official Gettysburg Battlefield guidebook that was used there for many years.

His first wife, the former Hazel Haynes, whom he married in 1946, was a descendant of Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson. She died in 1985.

No services are planned.

Mr. Myers is survived by his second wife of seven years, the former Jill Roten Fine; two other daughters, Laura Myers of Bethesda and Alice Goldet of Paris; two stepdaughters, Katharyn Hillman of Stevenson and Barbara Dowling of Annapolis; and a granddaughter, Gabrielle Goldet of Paris.

Pub Date: 3/25/96

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