Eli Miller, 97, founder of Princess Shops chain

July 18, 2003

Eli Miller, founder of a chain of Baltimore clothing stores and philanthropist, died of a stroke Monday at Sinai Hospital. He was 97.

Mr. Miller was born in Vilna, Russia, and immigrated to New York in 1921. After working in factories in New York City, he moved to Baltimore in 1932.

In 1932, he established Princess Shops, a chain of women's and children's clothing stores. He remained active in the family-owned business until 1988, when he retired. The chain, which once consisted of 34 stores, now operates a store in Mondawmin Mall.

Mr. Miller, a longtime Pikesville resident, was a member of then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer's Small Business Advisory Committee. He also had been a member of the Maryland Retail Merchants Association.

He was active in numerous Jewish and community organizations.

He was a board member of the Hebrew Free Loan Association from 1965 until last year and was its president from 1972 to 1973. He also had been a member of the board of the Central Scholarship Committee.

Mr. Miller was a member and former treasurer of the Beth Tfiloh Congregation and also a member Chizuk Amuno Congregation. He established a scholarship fund for students at Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community Day School and was an officer of the American Zionist Organization.

He was married for many years to the former Yetta Bakal, who died in 1984.

The couple established the Eli and Yetta Miller Foundation, which supported many local charities, including Jewish schools, organizations and community groups.

Mr. Miller enjoyed walking for exercise and was an accomplished storyteller. He also enjoyed playing gin rummy and poker.

Services were Wednesday.

Mr. Miller is survived by two sons, Alvin Miller of Pikesville and Harvey L. Miller of Hunt Valley; a daughter, Beverly Max of Pikesville; eight grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and his companion of 10 years, Marlene Godfrey of Pikesville.

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