Walter Uebersax

[ Age 89 ] Sparks resident was renowned for peach and pound cakes he produced at his family's bakery in Northeast Baltimore

December 29, 2006|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Walter E. Uebersax, a retired Parkville baker renowned for his peach and pound cakes produced in a rowhouse oven, died of Parkinson's disease complications Saturday at the Maryland Masonic Home in Cockeysville. The Sparks resident was 89.

Mr. Uebersax was a Baltimore native, born at home and delivered by his father, a Swiss-immigrant baker. The elder Uebersaxes - Ernest and Alvena - established the Fenwick Bakery in 1926, naming it for an avenue off Harford Road near Clifton Park, a location they selected so that their children would be close to the city's best schools.

The son, who learned to bake as a teen, was a 1934 graduate of City College. He earned a teaching degree from what is now Towson University, where he played soccer and was chosen as May King.

While attending the school, he met Helen Alma Taylor. After their 1939 marriage, they honeymooned throughout the West in their new Plymouth.

Mr. Uebersax taught art, history and English at a city elementary school at Hollins Street and Fulton Avenue, but in 1939 he asked his parents if he could return to their bakery and work alongside them and a brother, Edward H. Uebersax, now of Pasadena.

The family ran the bakery, and Mr. Uebersax oversaw its move to Harford Road in 1971 - keeping its name, as well as a rowhouse setting. He also retained its fare - crumb buns, rum buns and pumpkin pies, among other goods. "He never changed my father's recipe for pound cake or the peach cake made with tree-ripened Stewartstown, Pa., peaches," said his younger sister, Marta M. Gahs of Pasadena, who for a time worked alongside her brother - and still occasionally works at the shop.

Mr. Uebersax met with prospective brides to discuss their wedding cakes and with restaurateurs and caterers for party trays. On Saturdays, his four sons delivered the wedding cakes. He also made anniversary cakes - some for Fenwick customers whose wedding cakes had been baked there years earlier.

"The mass market is the thing now, and the small businessman can't compete, except in one area - personal service," he told a Sun reporter in 1966.

He worked until he was 78 and then sold the business to his employees, who continue to run it.

"He was good to work for and showed you so much," said Claudette Wilson, who co-owns the Fenwick and has worked there for 50 years. "He taught you what life was all about and what the important things were."

A former president of the Baltimore Retail Bakers Association, he was a member of the Grand Lodge of the Masons of Maryland and Waverly Lodge No. 152.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the chapel of the Maryland Masonic Home, 300 International Circle in Cockeysville, where he served on the board and had been residents council president.

In addition to his brother and sister, survivors include four sons, Ralph T. Uebersax of Reisterstown, Mark A. Uebersax of Perry, Mich., Frank W. Uebersax of Towson and Dan M. Uebersax of Sparks; a stepdaughter, Bonnye L. Haigh of New Freedom, Pa.; another brother, Werner A. Uebersax of Towson; another sister, Eleanor A. Zeock of Grosse Pointe, Mich.; four grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; and six step-great-grandchildren.

Mr. Uebersax survived two wives - his first, who died in 1979, and the former Evelyn Fink Phipps, who died in 2000.

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