Lorrine E. McLellan, 82, ran family delicatessen

August 24, 1999|By Melody Simmons | Melody Simmons,SUN STAFF

Lorrine E. McLellan, who with her husband had operated a neighborhood delicatessen in Idlewylde, died Saturday at St. Joseph Medical Center after a long illness. She was 82 and a resident of Idlewylde.

In 1948, she and her husband, Warren, were raising three children on his salary when they decided to buy a feed store at 6320 Sherwood Road in Baltimore County and convert it into a delicatessen, seeing the venture as a way to assure financial stability.

They borrowed money from relatives and sold all of their furniture to finance the purchase and opened McLellan's Delicatessen. The family lived in another part of the building, where Mrs. McLellan later cared for aging relatives.

The deli was known for Mrs. McLellan's chicken and potato salads.

In later years, the McLellans added a catering business, serving political gatherings, weddings, birthday parties and other occasions.

"All her children were walking advertisements for how good her food was," said a son, Walter J. McLellan of Idlewylde, one of five siblings. "Mom made every one of her own salads and she cooked her own roast beef and hams. Her chicken salad was made from scratch."

Mrs. McLellan was known for her generosity, never denying a request to donate food to charity. When a snow or ice storm occurred, no milk was sold in the store unless it was intended for a small child, her son said.

"She was the second coming of Mother Teresa," said Ted Freeman, owner of the Idlewood Barber Shop, also in the 6300 block of Sherwood Road.

Mr. Freeman knew Mrs. McLellan for 45 years and gave her two sons their first haircuts. He still cuts their hair.

"I've never had a customer say one bad thing about her," he said. "She was so well-liked and had a laid-back, quiet smile that was just something so pleasant."

Another neighbor, Lois Zeller of Idlewylde, said Mrs. McLellan always donated food for Idlewylde's community parties, including those for children at Halloween and Christmas.

"She was very quiet, but very giving," Mrs. Zeller said. "You always have special people come into your life and she was one. I'll remember her softness. It was never any trouble for her to do anything for you."

Six years after Mr. McLellan died in 1972, the family sold McLellan's Deli & Liquors, which remains in business today under that name.

After the business was sold, Mrs. McLellan volunteered through the auxiliary at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

A Baltimore native, the former Lorrine Elizabeth Wentz met her husband when she was 16.

They married in 1937 after she graduated from Eastern High School.

"Mom never took her wedding ring off -- even though she was widowed for 28 years," the son said. "She never complained. She was a very gentle person."

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Our Savior Lutheran Church, 33rd Street and The Alameda.

She also is survived by three daughters, Lorna A. Bills of Dulaney Valley, Joyce T. Serio of Cockeysville and Deborah L. McLellan of Idlewylde; another son, Warren G. McLellan Jr. of Fork; seven grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Pub Date: 8/24/99

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