Shirley M. Lombardo, 74, worked in family's restaurant

December 16, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

When Shirley M. Lombardo worked at the Haven Restaurant, most patrons were greeted by name and each would get a decent meal.

But what they mostly got was an earful of conversation from Mrs. Lombardo.

"There was no question that she enjoyed talking to everyone," said James Pierce of Northeast Baltimore, a longtime patron of the restaurant, which became the Haven. "She was probably one of the main reasons people kept coming back."

Mrs. Lombardo, who worked for the family-run business in Northeast Baltimore for more than 30 years, died Sunday from complications of a stroke while living at her daughter's Perry Hall home. She was 74.

Mrs. Lombardo's family founded and operated the Haven Restaurant in Northwood Shopping Center in the 1930s. She worked as a jack-of-all-trades at the restaurant/bar, but was usually a greeter and manager.

"She was just a little social butterfly," said her daughter Carey Smith of Branson, Mo. "She had a sparkle in her eye and could put a smile on everyone's face."

For many years, the Haven Restaurant was at Havenwood Road and Loch Raven Boulevard, where a service station is now, across from the Haven's current site in a strip shopping center.

The Haven Restaurant catered mostly to area residents, but team members from the Orioles and Colts, who played at nearby Memorial Stadium, were frequent patrons in the 1960s.

"She treated them all the same. They could be a famous athlete, or they could be somebody no one knew; once they came in there, she treated them all the same," Mr. Pierce said.

One athlete who came into her business in the early 1960s was Oriole Boog Powell. Mr. Powell came to the Orioles and was dubbed a "bonus baby" by the local media because of the extra money he was receiving.

She took the expression literally.

"When he came [to her restaurant] she had heard that he was a bonus baby and wouldn't serve him a beer because she thought he was underage," Ms. Smith said. "He took her in the back and tried to explain to her he wasn't, but she wouldn't serve him."

A native of Baltimore, the former Shirley Harrington graduated from Forest Park High School in 1942 and was a secretary for an insurance company for several years while employed as a hostess at the Haven Restaurant.

In 1960, while continuing to run the restaurant, she and her husband opened the Suburbanite Restaurant in Lutherville. The restaurant was more of an upscale establishment, and she operated it until 1963.

LTC The Haven was sold in the early 1970s, and the business has become one of Baltimore's more popular jazz clubs.

Mrs. Lombardo was active in the Shetland Hills Garden Club and volunteered for many years at St. Joseph Medical Center. She participated for many years as a "hugger" with the Special Olympics.

Services are scheduled for 1: 30 p.m. today at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

Mrs. Lombardo was thrice widowed. She married Earl Heagey in 1942; he died in 1963. She married Edward Cullen in 1965; he died in 1971. She married Vito Lombardo in 1975; he died in 1981.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Lombardo is survived by a son, Keith Heagey of Timonium; another daughter, Kim Bardelman of Perry Hall; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 12/16/98

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