Walter L. Scherr, 82

Liquor store owner

January 29, 2007

Walter L. Scherr, a retired liquor store owner known for his dry sense of humor and devotion to an extended family, died Jan. 22 of cardiac arrest at his home in Pikesville. He was 82.

He grew up in West Baltimore and was a member of the Easterwood Park Boys, a group who played baseball together as children and later formed a charitable organization.

He attended Forest Park High School but left before graduation to enlist in the Army in 1943. He was stationed in Europe during World War II, serving as a medic and assisting wounded soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge and other combat.

Upon his return from Europe, Mr. Scherr earned an associate's degree in history from the University of Baltimore.

In the mid-1950s, Mr. Scherr went into business with his father running Curley's Liquors, a store at Belvedere Avenue and Reisterstown Road that was named after its previous owner. He ran the business for 30 years. In that time, his family said, both he and the store became neighborhood institutions.

The store turned into a social gathering place, where friends would stop by to drink, smoke and watch television in the back room. Mr. Scherr, who was bald, came to be known as "Mr. Curley."

"He knew everybody and he had inside jokes with everybody," said his son, Adam Scherr of Brooklyn, N.Y. In addition, he said, "a lot of the neighborhood people would come to him if they needed help, if they needed to borrow money."

During riots in the 1960s, many liquor store owners in the area operated behind bulletproof glass, Adam Scherr said, but his father never did.

Mr. Scherr's first marriage ended in divorce. He married his second wife, the former Paula Bronfein, on Aug. 8, 1974, the day of President Richard M. Nixon's resignation. One of his stepdaughters, Cindy Hiller of Pikesville, remembers watching Nixon's resignation speech at their wedding reception.

Mr. Scherr's first wife had two children before marrying him, and Paula Scherr had four children from an earlier marriage, but family members said he treated all his stepchildren and step-grandchildren as his own.

"It was a very well-blended family," Ms. Hiller said.

He loved attending his grandchildren's sports events and concerts, family members said. After his retirement in 1987, Mr. Scherr worked as a volunteer for the Meals On Wheels Association, delivering food to needy families. He was also a member of the Jewish War Veterans Post 888 and Beth El Congregation. He also was a devoted fan of the Colts and the Orioles.

A service was held Wednesday.

In addition to his wife, son and stepdaughter, Mr. Scherr is survived by a brother, Morris Scherr of Towson; a sister, Lucille Alter of Pikesville; two stepsons, Brian Beckenheimer of Owings Mills and Lee Caplan of Chapel Hill, N.C.; three other stepdaughters, Barbara Goldenberg of Gaithersburg, Margo Chisnell of Reisterstown and Sharron Weidner of Port Townsend, Wash.; and 14 grandchildren.

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