Grodnitzky, 87, owned store selling drapery

R. H.

August 23, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Reuben Henry Grodnitzky officially retired more than 20 years ago from the business he founded in the 1930s, but he never really stopped working.

Until his final illness, the 87-year-old, known as "Mr. Henry," was a presence at Henry's Drapery and Shade Co. at 415 E. Oliver St.

Mr. Grodnitzky, an Arbutus resident, died Thursday of pneumonia at Northwest Hospital.

"His retirement was a family joke," said Kim Shifren, a granddaughter. "He owned the business for almost 70 years and could never stop working. He had a real work ethic and was never into idle hands."

The business, which he started with his late wife, included several shops in Baltimore. The couple operated a store on Eastern Avenue for more than 35 years and another on Howard Street, which was destroyed by a fire in 1981.

"He loved to make shades and he could do it so well," said Esther Scharf, a friend who managed Henry's on Howard Street. "He insisted on perfection, whatever he did."

Born near Kiev in Ukraine, Mr. Grodnitzky was a young child when his family moved to Baltimore. He began selling dry goods after he completed the eighth grade.

"He was always industrious," said Ms. Shifren of Owings Mills. "Even as a young child he worked in his father's dry goods business and had a paper route."

In 1931, Mr. Grodnitzky married Ann Ginsburg, and the couple started the custom drapery company on Eastern Avenue.

"It must be genetic because I can look at a window and know what will look right," said Ms. Shifren. "All of us have to have beautiful windows. Anything less would be unacceptable."

Mrs. Grodnitzky died in 1981. Several relatives have since joined the business.

Mr. Grodnitzky was active in several organizations and helped organize the building of the Greenspring Valley Synagogue.

Services were to be held at 11 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

He is survived by a daughter, Norma Shifren of Owings Mills; three brothers, Milton Grodnitzky of Owings Mills, Isadore Grodnitzky of Pikesville and Hyman Grayson of Pompano Beach, Fla; two sisters, Sylvia Schiff of Ocean City and Ann Brilliant of Pikesville; five grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 8/23/98

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