Edwin Lehnert

[ Age 82 ] Owner of truck equipment company -- founded in 1850 as carriage maker -- was a World War II veteran

November 13, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Edwin B. Lehnert, the retired owner of the truck equipment and repair firm his family founded as a carriage manufacturer in 1850, died in his sleep of a suspected heart ailment Nov. 6 at his Havre de Grace home. He was 82.

The Baltimore native grew up on Frisby Street and in Stoneleigh and was an Eagle Scout. He was a 1941 Polytechnic Institute graduate whose studies at the Johns Hopkins University were interrupted by World War II.

Drafted in late 1943, he attended Officer Candidate School at Edgewood Arsenal and was commissioned a second lieutenant a year later. He spent the remainder of the war stationed at various bases, including Fort Benning, Ga., and after his discharge from active duty in 1946 remained in the Army Reserves until he retired in 1963. He attained the rank of major.

After the war, Mr. Lehnert returned to Baltimore and earned a chemical engineering degree at Hopkins, where he played lacrosse. He then worked for two years as a chemical engineer at Edgewood Arsenal before joining his father, J. Edwin Lehnert, in the family's business, E. Lehnert & Sons, in 1950 - a century after its founding.

Family members said the Lehnerts went from building horse-drawn carriages and freight wagons into truck body manufacture and repair. The firm was located for many years on East Saratoga Street in downtown Baltimore. Mr. Lehnert helped construct truck bodies for the old Hecht's and Hutzler's stores, Fairfield-Western Maryland dairy, Esskay meatpackers and Lucas Brothers. Mr. Lehnert became the firm's president in 1968 when his father retired. In 2000, Mr. Lehnert celebrated the business' 150th anniversary. By that time, he had overseen a transition in which the firm had ceased manufacturing truck bodies and focused on truck equipment distribution, installation and repair. The Lehnert name also appeared on mud guards used by thousands of truckers.

When the city condemned the Saratoga site for the construction of Interstate 83, he helped move the business to a larger building on Pulaski Highway in Rosedale.

"The presence on a major truck route proved to be a good move, and he did well there," said his daughter, Julia K. Lehnert of Catonsville.

Mr. Lehnert and his brother operated the firm until 2002, when they sold the real estate and assets of the company to another truck body firm.

Mr. Lehnert met his future wife, Ruthanna Glaze, on a blind date. The couple married in 1950.

They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2000 by taking their children and their children's families to Bermuda.

Mr. Lehnert belonged to numerous local and national trade organizations and had been local president of the Truck Body Equipment Association. He also belonged to the Kiwanis Club for many years and was a past president of the Middle River Rotary Club. He was a Mason and Scottish Rite member. An avid sailor since his college years, Mr. Lehnert owned sailboats and enjoyed exploring the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries with his family.

He was a member of the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Bel Air.

Services will be private.

In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by a son, Maj. Erich K. Lehnert of Kailua, Hawaii; three other daughters, Susan L. Quigley of Laurel, Gretchen J. Lehnert of Forest Hill and Sarah L. Renehan of Abingdon; a brother, C. Richard Lehnert of Sparks; and 12 grandchildren.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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