Warren M. Bloomberg, 84, Baltimore postmaster who made famous poster

November 09, 1998|By Tom Pelton | Tom Pelton,SUN STAFF

Retired Baltimore Postmaster Warren M. Bloomberg's patriotism during the Vietnam War inspired him to create a poster: "This is Our Flag, Be Proud of It!"

The poster became the all-time best seller at the Government Printing Office.

Mr. Bloomberg died Wednesday at his home in Catonsville. He was 84 and suffered from heart disease.

Mr. Bloomberg, who supervised mail service across Central Maryland from 1966 until his retirement in 1984, was one of the few postmasters of his time to rise through the ranks from clerk instead of being selected because of political connections, according to postal officials.

He oversaw the modernization of the Baltimore post office, including the introduction of the ZIP code system during the 1960s.

As a reward for his 53 years with the U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Postmaster General William F. Bolger gave him the prestigious Benjamin Franklin Award when he retired.

"He was very good with employees. He'd walk into a parking garage in the Washington post office, and he'd know the first name and the names of the family members of practically every person he saw there," said his son, Thomas Bloomberg, who is postmaster for Hampstead.

A Naval intelligence officer who investigated subversive activity during World War II, Warren Bloomberg decided to inspire patriotism among his employees in 1970 by designing a poster with a picture of the American flag and the exhortation, "Be Proud!"

Displayed at the Baltimore post office, the design was picked up by the Government Printing Office and distributed nationally. It became such an icon of popular culture that the producers of the television show "Archie Bunker's Place" (the successor to "All In the Family") hung it over Archie's bar.

"Warren Bloomberg was very civic-minded, very dedicated to serving his country and the people of Baltimore," said Mary Bloomberg, his daughter-in-law.

Born in Baltimore on May 2, 1914, Mr. Bloomberg graduated from Catonsville High School and started working part time as a postal clerk at the Halethorpe post office when he was 17.

During an interview with The Sun before his retirement in 1984, he recalled the qualifications needed to launch his career. "The postmaster thought I had the strength to lift the mail bags so he hired me," he said.

He started at $12 a week, working from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. He was so devoted to his work that one New Year's Eve he dashed from a party to drag bags off a mail train, still wearing his tuxedo.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Mr. Bloomberg was a postal inspector for 11 years, tracking swindlers who abused the mail service. During one investigation, he chased a suspect pTC into a store, where the man shoved him into a basket of apples and drew a knife.

Mr. Bloomberg fired his service weapon into the air but the man escaped.

After climbing the civil service ranks, Mr. Bloomberg was appointed Baltimore postmaster by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Services will be held at 9 a.m. today at Gary L. Kaufman Funeral Home at Meadowridge Memorial Park, 7250 Washington Blvd. in Elkridge.

His wife of almost 50 years, Lillian R. Bloomberg, died in 1990.

In addition to his son, Mr. Bloomberg is survived by a daughter, Susan L. Buettner of Forest Hill; another son, David W. Harig of Greenwood; six grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 11/09/98

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