Dorothy C. Hergenroeder, 91, owner of Belair Road bakery

August 27, 2005|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Dorothy C. Hergenroeder, who with her husband owned and operated a landmark bakery that kept Baltimoreans supplied with peach cake, sticky buns, smearcase cake and other delicacies for more than 50 years, died of renal failure Wednesday at Keswick Multi-Care Center. She was 91.

Born Dorothy Cook Linthicum Sporrer in Baltimore, she was raised in Fullerton and Towson. She was a 1932 graduate of Seton High School and went to work the next year for her future husband's father, who owned a bakery in Hamilton.

In 1933, she married John Hergenroeder, a baker, and began married life in a house on Bayonne Avenue in Hamilton.

Her husband sold their home in 1943 to raise the money to buy two rowhouses next door to each other in the 4900 block of Belair Road that became the Woodlea Bakery. It takes its name from Woodlea Avenue, just south of the bakery.

While her husband handled the baking, Mrs. Hergenroeder handled its business affairs while raising the couple's 12 children in an apartment above the bakery, which was open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

"She was pretty much the pillar behind the bakery. My father was the idea man and she was his support. Her whole life was her family, the bakery and the church," said a son, Charles E. Hergenroeder Sr., who now runs the business with his son, Charles E. Hergenroeder Jr., and a sister, Dolores M. Pomles of Homeland.

"She was always very supportive of her kids and the bakery operated seven days a week. It was a great way of life. In the late 1940s, they added another business, the Foodland Coffee Shop, next door that served breakfast, lunch and dinner. It closed in 1979 when we expanded the bakery," he said.

"She was always very supportive and forgiving of her children. For our birthdays, she'd always make our favorite dinner and a cake from scratch with homemade icing. They didn't come from the bakery," said a daughter, Elizabeth A. Pepple of Ruxton. "She could always tell our father's bread from the way it was folded and how he cut the slits in the top."

"It really was a team operation and mostly she handled the bakery's finances. Her life centered on her family. She never went out to a dance and only saw one movie in her life, The Sound of Music," said Charles E. Hergenroeder Jr., a grandson and a third-generation family member to work in the business.

Mrs. Hergenroeder enjoyed cooking German dishes and was especially known for her sauerbraten and dumplings.

"For years, she'd prepare lunch and dinner for all the employees. If she was serving her family steak upstairs, she served steak downstairs to the workers. She treated them all as family," the grandson said.

He added: "She was from typical German stock and was a hard worker all through her life. She didn't waste a second of her time."

"She was still active in the business until about three years ago, when her health began to fail," Mrs. Pomles said. Her husband died in 1999.

A devout Roman Catholic who would say the rosary after dinner, she considered seeing the pope in Rome a highlight of her life, family members said. She had also traveled to Germany.

She was a communicant of St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, 4414 Frankford Ave., where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today.

Mrs. Hergenroeder is survived by two other sons, Thomas J. Hergenroeder of Gardenville and Francis X. Hergenroeder of Baltimore; four other daughters, Barbara R. Gizinski of Forest Hill, Dorothy L. Hall of Baltimore, Marie T. Hergenroeder of New York City and Anita Posterli of Lutherville; 23 other grandchildren; and 36 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by a son, Jack Hergenroeder; and two daughters, Joan Hergenroeder and Mary Hill.

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