Walter Kloetzli, 99, banquet manager at Emerson Hotel

March 28, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

The photo that appeared in yesterday's editions with the obituary of Walter Kloetzli, longtime banquet manager of the old Emerson Hotel, was incorrect. Mr. Kloetzli, who was 99, is shown above in a photo taken about a decade ago. Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. John's Lutheran Church, on Sweet Air Road in Jacksonville.

The Sun regrets the error.

Walter Kloetzli arrived in the United States speaking no

English in 1914 but became known for his style as banquet manager at one of Baltimore's most highly regarded hotels.

Mr. Kloetzli, who died at age 99 Thursday of a stroke at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, was banquet manager at the Emerson Hotel.


He lived in Phoenix until last year, when he moved to the Glen Meadow retirement community in Glen Arm.

The Emerson, which closed in 1969, was at the northwest corner of Baltimore and Calvert streets, a site now occupied by the Crestar Bank Building.

In its heyday, it was host to Charles Lindbergh, Casey Stengel and the New York Yankees, Jean Harlow, Guy Lombardo and the Royal Canadians, Jimmy Durante and every president from Warren G. Harding to Richard M. Nixon.

Known as "Walter of the Emerson," Mr. Kloetzli was banquet manager for 45 years, retiring when the hotel closed. It was a job that made him a confidante of many of the city's social, political and civic leaders who held events there.

Mr. Kloetzli carried himself with a dash of European elegance, sporting a finely clipped mustache, conservative suits, a carnation in his lapel and, after 5 p.m., a dinner jacket in the dining room.

"He was a presence like Oscar of the Waldorf. A very striking man," said Kemp Gatling of Rodgers Forge, who came to the hotel in 1937 and managed it from 1959 to 1965.

Born in Bern, Switzerland, Mr. Kloetzli was 16 when he had completed his apprenticeship as a waiter, left his homeland and sailed for the United States aboard the S.S. Chicago, which zigzagged across the Atlantic to avoid German U-boats.

He spoke no English when he arrived in New York with $10 in his pocket, a pair of kid leather gloves and a derby.

After working as a waiter at a hotel in Toronto, he returned to New York's famed Astor Hotel. Later, he was a steward aboard the Queen of Bermuda and at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in New York and the Washington Hotel in the nation's capital.

He was working in Newport, R.I., when he met Capt. Isaac Emerson, the Bromo Seltzer inventor, who invited him to work in his 450-room hotel in Baltimore.

He married Marguerite Gaffner in 1920 and became a citizen in 1925. Mrs. Kloetzli died in 1976.

During World War II, he served in the Navy at Solomons Island Naval Base and the Washington Navy Yard, where he was in charge of the senior officers' mess. He was discharged with the rank of lieutenant commander.

An energetic man, Mr. Kloetzli climbed the 15,500-foot Matterhorn at the age of 57.

He built a Swiss chalet in Phoenix, where he and his wife enjoyed gardening. He created a rock garden that contained 117 tons of rocks, 700 varieties of azaleas and the Swiss national flower, the edelweiss.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at St. John's Lutheran Church, on Sweet Air Road in Jacksonville.

He is survived by a son, Dr. Walter Kloetzli Jr. of Falls Church, Va.; a daughter, Marguerite Jackson of Phoenix; seven grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and a great-great grandchild.

Pub Date: 3/28/98

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.