Ada Becker, 89, Baltimore fashion model, proprietor of Charles St. clothing store

February 08, 2004|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

Ada Becker, a former Baltimore fashion model and clothier, died Thursday at North Oaks Retirement Community in Pikesville of complications from a fractured hip. She was 89.

Ada Gorelik grew up in Baltimore, the eldest of three girls and the piano player of the group.

"She played quite well. Our [middle] sister Ruth used to dance and I used to do the singing," said Lillian Hack, the youngest of the trio. "We used to go out and entertain different organizations, not to be paid, just because we enjoyed it."

She graduated from Western High School in 1932. A year later, she married Bernard B. Becker, who eventually brought her into his family business, Becker's clothing store, which he ran from 1929 until his death in 1995.

"She and my father were known as the most elegant couple," said their daughter Joan Eve Cohen of Baltimore. "They were very social."

Mrs. Becker developed and maintained the first women's section in the traditionally male store, making frequent trips to New York to buy the latest styles, using the know-how she'd gained modeling for local department stores during World War II.

"She was gorgeous," her daughter said. "When she came up to school, I was so proud to have her as my mother."

In the 1970s, Mrs. Becker opened her own boutique, Ada Bernard - a combination of her and her husband's first names - which she ran for about 10 years on Charles Street near Saratoga Street.

"She was a strong, very involved family person who was a hard worker," said her son, Dr. Larry Becker, a Baltimore orthopedic surgeon. "She was very bright and very into the arts. She loved going to the opera and the symphony. She loved going to shows up in New York."

Mrs. Hack, who lives in Annapolis - as does sister Ruth Snyder - said Mrs. Becker's love of artistic culture was nurtured by their mother.

"When we grew up, we really were exposed to a lot of beautiful music," Mrs. Hack said. "Our mother was born in Russia, and she always had a wind-up Victrola in her dining room playing beautiful music."

The three sisters remained close, particularly in the years since Mr. Becker's death, when Mrs. Becker moved into North Oaks.

"She was a very, very kind person," Mrs. Hack said. "She never had a bad word to say about anybody."

Mrs. Becker was a charter member of the Bonnie View Country Club, and a longtime member of Beth Tfiloh Synagogue.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to her daughter, son and sisters, she is survived by another daughter, Barbara Becker of Sarasota, Fla.; 11 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; and one great-great-grandson.

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