Otto Helmut Eberspacher, 101, business owner and painter

November 06, 2001|By Michael Scarcella | Michael Scarcella,SUN STAFF

Otto Helmut Eberspacher, a retired business owner, frequent traveler and landscape painter, died of pneumonia Oct. 30 at Edenwald retirement community in Towson, his home for the past eight years. The former Loch Hill resident was 101.

Born and raised in Oldenburg, Germany, Mr. Eberspacher arrived in Baltimore in 1928 expecting to stay only several months, said his niece Lieselotte E. Kurth, 78, a former professor of German at the Johns Hopkins University.

"He thought it would be one stop on his adventure. He had never been to the United States. He stepped off the boat and liked Baltimore," she said.

For nearly a decade before his arrival, Mr. Eberspacher had traveled around Europe, and for about two years was a surveyor for the Brazilian government.

Mrs. Kurth said he enjoyed telling tales from his adventures - the food, the wine, the people. He didn't take many photographs during his trip, and he didn't keep a diary, she said. "He talked about the strange phenomena of nature. ... He always talked about the big spiders, which were pets for the [Brazilian] farmers. Nobody believed it," she said.

His love for Baltimore, Mrs. Kurth said, was augmented by a sudden romance with Friedel Klammer, a German immigrant from Wuppertal who happened to arrive in the city the same day he did - but on a different boat. They met that night, eventually moved in together in Locust Point and married in 1929.

Mrs. Eberspacher, who died in 1991, had operated the European Delicatessen in Lexington Market, selling European imported cheese, sausage and chocolates for a decade beginning in the mid-1930s.

In 1951, Mr. Eberspacher founded EBE Distributors and Contractors, which specialized in waterproofing roofs and providing asphalt for parking lot decks. He sold the business and retired in 1964, and focused his efforts on painting.

"Everywhere he went, he would go to museums to study the art," Mrs. Kurth said, adding that he "didn't realize he could paint" until taking it up as a hobby in 1948. His landscapes, in oil and watercolor, included Germany's Black Forest and the Austrian Alps and such scenes in Baltimore as Sherwood Gardens and a pre-Harborplace view from atop Federal Hill.

He painted icons, executed in the Byzantine style with gold-leaf technique, copied from Greek and Russian works, Mrs. Kurth said.

In 1975, Mr. Eberspacher joined the Charcoal Club, a longtime city artists' association. He was named a member emeritus in 1995, but by then his eyesight was failing and he could no longer paint.

No funeral is planned.

In addition to Mrs. Kurth, he is survived by two nieces in Germany.

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