Maurice Jacques Baruch, 86, furniture store owner, co-founder of synagogue

May 14, 2002|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Maurice Jacques Baruch, a retired furniture store owner who helped found a synagogue, died of cancer yesterday at Northwest Hospital Center. The Pikesville resident was 86.

Before retiring 19 years ago, he owned and managed Koren's Furniture on Baltimore National Pike near Catonsville. The business had been founded by his father-in-law in the 1940s.

Born in the Bronx, N.Y., he was known as Ric. He earned a degree in premedical studies at City College of New York and earned a master's degree in economics from George Washington University.

During World War II and the Korean War, he served in the Air Force and attained the rank of captain.

He was a member of a group that founded Temple Emanuel in 1954 above a Gwynn Oak Junction drugstore. Family members said he was interested in race relations and the civil rights movement, and arranged preaching exchanges between his temple and city churches.

They said that he collected food for people burned out in the city's 1968 rioting, and that his Howard Park home was set on fire that year, forcing his family to move to Pikesville.

"He was a very passionate man, passionate about what he thought and what he believed," said Rabbi Emeritus Gustav Buchdahl of Temple Emanuel, now in Reisterstown.

"He never left any doubt about what he felt. He gave of himself materially, emotionally and intellectually."

He was a volunteer at the Jewish Convalescent and Nursing Home in Pikesville for 10 years, where he led the men's club and discussions of current events, contemporary issues and books.

"He had a special bond with the residents," said Marlene Lesley, director of activities at the nursing home. "Many will be going to his funeral, wheelchairs and all."

"He arrived here super-prepared, with a loose-leaf binder full of notes," said Susan Prero, director of volunteers at the nursing home. "It was a conscious, deliberate effort for him to spend time with people. He brought the outside into the nursing home. When he had a good discussion, he would come out beaming."

Mr. Baruch was a member of a group of men who visited area restaurants on Fridays. They called themselves the Lunch Bunch and made informal critiques of food and service. He also gardened and played the piano and mandolin.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Temple Emanuel, 909 Berrymans Lane.

He is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Sylvia Koren; a daughter, Beth Baruch Joselow of Washington; a sister, Dorothy Kramer of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and three grandchildren. A son, David Baruch, died in 1995.

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