Samuel Finglass, 90, sign company founder

April 13, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Samuel Finglass, who founded the Park Sign Co. and created many outdoor advertising displays in the Baltimore area, died of congestive heart failure April 6 at Ruxton Health and Rehabilitation Center of Pikesville. The Pikesville resident was 90.

Born in Baltimore and raised on West Forest Park Avenue, he was a 1931 graduate of Forest Park High School.

Soon after, he began drawing advertising sketches for the G. C. Murphy variety stores. He then formed Park Sign at Park Avenue and Saratoga Street.

He continued his studies at Maryland Institute College of Art and went on to do work for the city's major department stores. For many years he built floats for the Thanksgiving Hochschild Kohn Toytown Parade on Maryland Avenue and Howard Street.

"We had to rent a big warehouse to build and assemble the parts for the parade," said his son, Barry Finglass, who was president of the sign business before it closed in 1998.

Samuel Finglass also produced three-dimensional exterior displays for Howard Street department store facades, and signs for numerous suburban real estate developments and area contractors.

In the mid-1960s, Mr. Finglass decided to build an Asian garden at his Pikesville home. He brought in 20 tons of stones, rocks and gravel.

"I went to the [Montreal] Expo '67 and saw the waterfalls in the Japanese pavilion there," he told a Sun reporter in 1967. "I came home, dug the water path one Saturday night and finished it the next day. ... I am not a landscape designer and not all of my work is authentically Oriental. I just had this idea."

Mr. Finglass also painted portraits for hospital lobbies, public buildings and post offices in the Palm Beach, Fla., area, where he lived for many years before returning to Pikesville several years ago.

Last year, Baltimore Hebrew Congregation had an exhibit of his paintings, including works titled Youth at the Wailing Wall, Moses and the Commandments and The Shofar's Call.

Services will be held at 11:30 a.m. tomorrow at Eternal Light Memorial Gardens in Boynton Beach, Fla.

In addition to his son, survivors include four brothers, William Finglass of Boca Raton, Fla., Leon Finglass and Gilbert Finglass, both of Pikesville, and Sidney Finglass of Sparks; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren. His wife of more than 45 years, the former Anne Musnick died in 1997. A son, Carl Finglass, died in 2002.

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