Louis Gallant, 96, salesman for grocery

October 16, 2003|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Louis Gallant, who worked for more than 80 years selling suspenders, groceries and bagels, died of complications from a broken hip Oct. 9 at Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 96.

Born in Philadelphia and raised in Fells Point and on Presstman Street, he left school after sixth grade. At age 12, he started slicing meat and working the counter at the old Katz's Delicatessen on West Baltimore Street. Family members said he picked up a love of Jewish-style foods there and throughout his life made tasty dishes for family gatherings.

Several years later, he started traveling throughout the South and Middle Atlantic for his father, Sam Gallant, who had a men's belt and suspender manufacturing business on Hanover Street.

After his 1931 marriage to Sarah Etta Green, he went to work for his father-in-law, Benjamin Green, a grocery wholesaler, and remained for 60 years as a salesman, buyer and officer in the business, B. Green & Co.

"He could sell, sell and sell," said a son, Allan Gallant of Mount Washington. "He was a fantastic salesman. He built up a book of customers from Essex south to Annapolis and throughout Southern Maryland. He could relate to all levels of people, from a large grocery store owner to a little shop."

He said his father won merchants' confidences, even when he was selling to their competitors.

"He helped retailers run good stores," the son said. "He told them what to buy and what was a good price to sell their stuff."

In 1992, he took his last job, as the maitre d' and greeter at Sam's Bagels on Cold Spring Lane in Roland Park, a business then owned by his sons. He spent much of his day at the gathering spot, befriending neighbors as well as students and staff from nearby Loyola College and the College of Notre Dame.

Mr. Gallant enjoyed fishing on the Chesapeake Bay, and cleaned and cooked the rockfish he caught. He made many dishes, include a tuna fish spread he devised using Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.

In his free time, he enjoyed an afternoon at Pimlico or Laurel race courses, where he wagered moderately.

Services were held Friday.

In addition to his son, survivors include another son, Philip Gallant of Lutherville; a sister, Celia Frank of Baltimore; eight grandchildren; and 15 great-grandchildren. His wife died in 1980 and a son, Murray Gallant, died in 2000.

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