Stella V. Biel, 85, operated grocery store

September 19, 2004

Stella V. Biel, who ran a grocery store in Canton with her husband for nearly 20 years, died of pulmonary disease Sept. 12 at Bayview Care Center. She was 85.

The former Stella Ostrowski was born and raised in Fells Point, where she lived in the same house on Anneslie Street until she married Anthony F. Biel in 1945.

She attended Holy Rosary Elementary in Fells Point until the eighth grade, when she quit school because she had to work to help support her family. For a short time, she did factory work for Tindeco and Western Electric during World War II.

Soon after marrying, she and Mr. Biel opened Tony's at Fait and East avenues, selling "everything your neighborhood corner grocery would carry," said her daughter, Natalie Leonard of Perry Hall.

"She worked really hard when they owned the grocery store," Mrs. Leonard said. "She would wake up very early in the morning and open the store for my father. At the end of the day, she'd clean out the showcase and the slicer. She'd get down on her hands and knees to clean."

The store was best known for its homemade sausage, Mrs. Leonard said.

Using a recipe that has been in the family for five generations and a sausage-maker dating to 1859, the Biels sold the sausage for Christmas and Easter dinners, Mrs. Leonard said. The sausage also was a favorite entree at family dinners, she said.

About 1962, the Biels sold the grocery store and worked together for several years at two other meat markets, where she helped with sales. After her husband died in 1983, she went to Woodlea Bakery, where she worked part time until she was nearly 80 years old.

A member of Sacred Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church, she was active with its women's groups, including the altar sodality, the Blessed Virgin Mary sodality and the Polish Women's Alliance.

"Anytime she was asked to volunteer, she was always there," said her sister, Dorothy Bayer of Dundalk. "She was a worker."

Mrs. Biel was also known for her sweet tooth. "She loved doughnuts, pastries and cakes," her daughter said. A Mass of Christian burial was offered Thursday at Sacred Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church Church.

In addition to her daughter and sister, Mrs. Biel is survived by a son, Timothy Biel of Hyattsville; two brothers, Henry Ostrowski of Edgemere and Stanley Ostrowski; two other sisters, Genevie Rakowski of Forest Hill and Marie McCall of Anne Arundel County; two grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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