Doris Burkheimer, 88, owner of nightclub, breeder of horses

April 09, 2000|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Doris W. Burkheimer, a former owner of a Southeast Baltimore nightclub who later bred thoroughbred horses, died Wednesday at Mariner Health of Forest Hill from complications of a fall she suffered in October. She was 88 and lived in White Hall, Harford County.

In a colorful and varied life, the former Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co. operator eloped to Bel Air in 1933 with her future husband, Harry Burkheimer, and then opened a nightclub.

During the Depression, they established Colonial Stables at Erdman Avenue and Sinclair Lane in Southeast Baltimore.

The nightclub, popularly known as "The Stables," was a combination riding academy and jitterbug joint where Baltimoreans came to either ride horses or listen to swing bands and dance the night away.

"The Sunday jam sessions were very popular. I wasn't allowed to go inside but peeked in to see what was going on," said her daughter, Joy B. Ward of White Hall, laughing.

"While the dancers and musicians were jamming, she'd be in the kitchen busy making 15-cent sandwiches and preparing T-bone steak dinners that cost 75 cents," she said.

After closing the club in 1950, the Burkheimers purchased a farm on Cedar Avenue in Howard County. The farm, later acquired by developer James W. Rouse, became a part of Columbia.

In the 1960s, they purchased Peaceful Meadows in Phoenix, Baltimore County, where they began training and breeding thoroughbreds.

Mrs. Burkheimer was the owner of Pat's Gamble, who won the 1979 Virginia Gold Cup and raced in the Maryland Grand National point-to-point race that year.

After her husband's death in 1986, Mrs. Burkheimer sold the farm and moved to her home in White Hall where she lived until her death.

Born Doris W. Gunkel, she was raised in East Baltimore and graduated from Eastern High School.

Services were held at Ruck Towson Funeral Home. In addition to her daughter, she is survived by a sister, Olivia McCall of Phoenix, Ariz.; three grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

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