Alfred H. Schwartzman, 73, community pharmacist

September 26, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Alfred Howard Schwartzman, who was raised in his high school years by two neighborhood pharmacists and with their encouragement became one himself, died of esophageal cancer Sunday at his Pikesville home. He was 73.

Born in Guilford County, N.C., and raised in Baltimore's Reservoir Hill, he attended night school at City College and worked days stocking shelves at the old Brookfield Pharmacy after his mother died and his father lived out-of-state. Its owners, Godfrey Kroopnick and Irving Freed, gave him the job, helped raise him and encouraged him to go into their profession.

Mr. Schwartzman served in the Army during the Korean War and used his GI benefits to attend the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where he was elected student body president. He also became a member of Alpha Zeta Omega fraternity, where he remained active in later years.

After working at Richmond's Pharmacy at Park Heights and Rogers avenues and at Rudie's A.I.D. Drugs on West North Avenue, he purchased Brookfield Pharmacy from his benefactors after the business was damaged by looters during a paralyzing 1979 snowstorm.

When Mr. Schwartzman reopened the business a month later, he worked alongside his wife, the former Benita Richmond, who became the store's buyer of novelties, toys, watches and perfumes.

"People thought he was a little crazy to buy the Brookfield Pharmacy because of the perceived high crime and poverty of the area," said his son Mark Schwartzman of Baltimore. "But with the help of my mother, who was known as `Ms. Bea,' they created a thriving business and earned the respect of the community they served."

His son said Mr. Schwartzman was well-liked in the community because he hired employees who lived in the area.

"He treated every customer with respect," his son said. "Every morning when he opened the store, patrons would be waiting for my parents, to say hello," his son said.

In the 1990s, the city condemned the Whitelock Street real estate where the pharmacy stood and Mr. Schwartzman was forced to close it.

"My father wanted to remain an independent pharmacist and continue serving his customer base," his son said, telling how Mr. Schwartzman and his wife opened A&B Drugs - for Alfred and Benita - at 523 W. Lexington St. in 1991.

"The expected redevelopment never arrived in Reservoir Hill, but many of his customers would come by the carload on the first of each month so that my father could cash their Social Security checks or fill their prescriptions," his son said. "Many of his new customers were employees at the University of Maryland Hospital and the Social Security [downtown] complex."

Mr. Schwartzman was diagnosed with cancer in February, but continued working in his store until about two weeks before he died.

He was president of the Baltimore Metropolitan Pharmacy Association in 1997 and 1998.

Services will be held at 3 p.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road in Pikesville.

In addition to his wife of 48 years and his son, survivors include two other sons, Hillel Schwartzman and David Schwartzman, both of Baltimore; a brother, Robert Schwartzman, and sister, Rosalie Mason, both of Reno, Nev.; and two grandsons.

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