Sidney R. `Doc' Klavens, 84, drugstore owner

November 05, 2003|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Sidney R. "Doc" Klavens, who owned and operated a neighborhood drugstore across from Cross Street Market for 40 years, died of heart failure Monday at Sinai Hospital. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 84.

A Baltimore native raised on Park Heights Avenue, Mr. Klavens was a 1937 graduate of City College. After his graduation from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in 1942, he enlisted in the Navy and served as a pharmacist's mate at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital and in Bremerton, Wash.

Home on leave in 1945, he married Ethel Woollach. After her first date with her future husband, Mrs. Klavens recalled telling her sister, "That boy's going to make some girl a good husband."

In 1948, the couple purchased the James Pharmacy in the 1100 block of Light St.

"It was an old-fashioned neighborhood drugstore. It had a tin ceiling and a black-and-white linoleum floor. We had a soda fountain and several booths," Mrs. Klavens said. "While customers waited to have prescriptions filled, they were given a slip of paper that entitled them to a free Coca-Cola."

The drugstore also sold homemade Easter baskets that Mrs. Klavens made. In addition to nonprescription medicines, the store carried a full line of Whitman and Russell Stover candies, cosmetics, toys and even small appliances.

Thick milkshakes made with Hendler's ice cream were featured at the soda fountain, as well as a daily homemade hot dish, such as savory beef stew, roast turkey and gravy, or spaghetti and meatballs.

"And on Christmas Eve we served eggnog to all of our customers," Mrs. Klavens said.

Mr. Klavens, who always dressed in a white smock and hand-tied bow tie, was a genial and kind presence who looked as though he could have stepped out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

"He really was a very personable guy who enjoyed talking to everyone from the poorest folks to the wealthiest. He was both loved and respected, and he'd knock himself out for them," said Arnie J. Honkofsky, a pharmacist at the NeighborCare Pharmacy in the Weinberg Community Health Center on East Fayette Street, where Mr. Klavens was a part-time pharmacist until this year.

"He looked after them and made no exceptions. If someone was a little short of funds, he made sure they got their medications. He was a very compassionate man," Mr. Honkofsky said.

"He helped them in many ways -- he personally delivered prescriptions and other items to housebound customers -- and he was vocal in his frustration whenever drug prices went up. He knew what a hardship this posed for people on limited incomes," said a daughter, Julie R. Klavens of Baltimore.

After selling the business in 1988, Mr. Klavens also worked part time at Chestnut Pharmacy in Hampden, and earlier at Field's of Pikesville until its pharmacy closed in 1998.

Mr. Klavens had a private pilot's license and enjoyed flying. He also liked horseback riding and target shooting, and skied until his mid-70s. He was a charter member of Bonnie View Country Club in Mount Washington.

He attended Beth El Congregation.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Sol Levinson and Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Klavens is survived by two other daughters, Susan R. Hutner of Chevy Chase and Stefanie A. Klavens of Boston; a brother, Elmer Klavens of Pikesville; and a granddaughter.

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