John A. Walterhoefer Sr., 77, paper wholesaler in city

May 11, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

John A. "Jack" Walterhoefer Sr., a downtown Baltimore paper wholesaler who provided the brown paper bags and coffee cups used at corner groceries and church suppers for nearly six decades, died of a heart attack Thursday at his Edgewater summer home. He was 77 and also resided in Ellicott City.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Edmondson Avenue, he began working for his father nearly 60 years ago at the North Greene Street paper goods business that the elder Walterhoefer founded in 1900 at the site, a short distance from Lexington Market.

As a young man, Mr. Walterhoefer lifted the 100-pound brown paper bag bundles that were the business' mainstay from Baltimore and Ohio Railroad boxcars.

"He always prided himself on his body," said a son, John A. Walterhoefer Jr. of Ellicott City. "He never went to a gym. His body came from just working hard."

Mr. Walterhoefer delivered tall, slender bags to liquors stores, wax paper to lake trout shops and cocktail maraschino cherries and glasses to taverns. He also sold summertime snowball-making supplies. His only time away from the business was during service in the Navy during World War II.

"He grew the business from all the nationalities that came into Baltimore over the years," said his son. "He was street smart and could sell you things you didn't realize you needed.

"He had the kind of personality and skills to deal with the owners of nearly all the city's mom-and-pop confectionery stores and carryouts. He would work with all the differing ethnic groups. He dealt with Jewish storekeepers, Italians, Greeks and Asians. He sold in small lots, too. He helped the people who were just getting started in business."

Family members said he preferred to supply small shopkeepers and restaurants and believed that as they grew, they would remain faithful to him. He also accommodated family reunions and church suppers.

Mr. Walterhoefer became the company's president before retiring in 1988. He continued to come in one day a week until six months ago.

"He did a huge New Year's Eve business with hats and noisemakers," his son said. "The street vendors would come in, buy dozens, sell them, come back with a few dollars and buy more. By the end of the night they'd have a fistful of money."

Mr. Walterhoefer did not move from his 19th-century, four-story warehouse until the site was sought by the University of Maryland two years ago. The business now is run by family members in Southwest Baltimore.

In his free time, Mr. Walterhoefer enjoyed fishing and crabbing in the South River.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 1 p.m. today at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Roman Catholic Church, 4795 Ilchester Road, where he was a member.

Survivors also include his wife of 53 years, the former Angela C. Duffy; three other sons, Gerard M. Walterhoefer, James P. Walterhoefer and Randall D. Walterhoefer, all of Ellicott City; three daughters, Catherine C. Tracey and Diane M. Dukehart, both of Ellicott City, and Jane A. Walterhoefer of Catonsville; two sisters, Marjorie Shaffer of Ellicott City and Jean Geelhaar of Elkridge; and eight grandchildren.

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