Albert Blum, 94, president of department store in city

May 21, 2004|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Albert H. Blum, a Baltimore businessman who was president of the old Blum's Department Store and associated with numerous other commercial endeavors, died of heart failure yesterday at his Pikesville home. He was 94.

Mr. Blum was born in East Baltimore and raised on Broadway. He was a 1926 graduate of City College, and left the Johns Hopkins University in his senior year to run the family business after his father became ill.

His father, Russian immigrant Samuel Blum, had established the Good Value Bargain House on Howard Street in 1908. During World War I, he moved the business to the 300 block of N. Gay St. and renamed it Blum's Department Store.

"As many as four generations of one family shopped at Blum's, which was particularly easy to find because it was directly across from Rice's Bakery and its wonderfully fragrant raisin bread," said a son, Marc Paul Blum of Baltimore.

During the Depression, the store remained open while extending liberal credit to customers.

"In addition to good value pricing, Blum's was known for its Lucky 7 scarab charm, which it distributed to thousands of customers. On the back were hieroglyphics which have definitely proved lucky but await translation," Marc Blum said. "The store was also known for its two slogans, `Blum's Tells the Truth,' and the `Store with a Heart.'"

In 1956, Mr. Blum sold the shop to Reliable Stores of New York City, which later merged with Pollack's on Howard Street. Pollack-Blum's operated stores on Howard Street and Pulaski Highway.

In the late 1950s, Mr. Blum and his brother, Irving Blum, established Blum's Inc., a company that financed accounts receivables for a number of manufacturers and a grocery store chain.

For more than 30 years, Mr. Blum was an officer and director of Baltimore Trotting Raceway, which later became known as BTR Realty and acquired control of the Harford County Fair Association. He was also involved with development of Pulaski Industrial Park and Harford Mall. BTR was merged into Fair Lanes Properties in 1973.

He was also one of the partners who built the First National Bank building at 25 S. Charles St.

Until the late 1990s, Mr. Blum operated Cole's Colonial, a chain of four Washington-area furniture stores.

Mr. Blum had served on the boards of First Federal Savings and Loan of Annapolis, Union Federal Savings and Loan, the American Institute for Mental Studies, and Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital.

He was a member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

In honor of his 90th birthday, his family endowed the Blum-Iwry Chair in Near Eastern Studies at the Johns Hopkins University.

Services will be held at 1 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road.

Mr. Blum is also survived by his wife of 63 years, the former Mildred Goldstein; two other sons, Joel F. Blum of Mount Washington and James D. Blum of Pikesville; a daughter, Claire Stampfer of Brookline, Mass.; and five grandchildren.

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