Jean E. Small

[Age 96] Pharmacy co-owner volunteered at hospital, Meals on Wheels.

March 08, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,sun reporter

Jean E. Small, who co-owned and ran a Lexington Street pharmacy and was later honored for thousands of volunteer hours at Sinai Hospital and Meals on Wheels, died of Monday of complications from old age at Levindale Hebrew Convalescent Home. The Village of Cross Keys resident was 96.

Born Esther Jeanette "Jean" Taylor in Baltimore, she attended city public schools and began working alongside her father at his Gay Street furniture business. She joined the Miriam Lodge and United Order of True Sisters, a Jewish charity organization, and delivered food baskets on the High Holy Days to the needy.

In 1929, she married Irving Smulwitz, a pharmacist with whom she ran a neighborhood drugstore at Lexington and Arch streets until the late 1970s. The family changed its name to Small.

"She never sat still," said her daughter, Leatrice Gaine of Baltimore. "She was like perpetual motion in everything she did, if it was selling, knitting, packing food or helping her neighbors."

Her daughter recalled that her mother made some of the beauty products sold at the store, including a hair treatment called Simm's Pomade, blending lanolin, sulfur, sage olive oil and oil of bergamot. She also made Easter baskets sold at the store.

On Saturdays, Mrs. Small would send her two children to the Hippodrome with their lunch and dinner so she could devote her attention to the business. The children watched the shows until midnight, when they walked home as their parents were closing the drugstore.

Mrs. Small remained active in True Sisters and Miriam Lodge for 75 years. About 45 years ago, she joined a Sinai Hospital volunteer program and ran the hospital's flower shop. She also knitted thousands of caps for newborns during her 25,000 hours of service.

"If I knew I could do any good for people, that's what I'm here for," she told a Baltimore Jewish Times writer in 2005. "At the end of the day, I want to know I've done something good."

Her daughter said Mrs. Small was an early riser and left a lunch -- usually a sandwich, cookies or fruit -- for the morning paper deliverer. After she read the paper, she distributed its sections to her apartment building neighbors, deciding which one should get sports, financial, news or features.

Mrs. Small made numerous table arrangements for her charity groups and decorated sukkahs with fall fruits and vegetables for the observation of the Jewish holiday of Sukkot at Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and at Sinai. She also walked several miles a day until late last year -- in part to keep up the use of a leg that had been operated on 49 years ago for cancer.

She was also a daily kosher food packer and router for Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland. She received its 2006 Ernestine McCollum Award in recognition of more than 39 years of "exemplary dedication" and "the extraordinary amount of time and energy" she devoted to the food program.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville.

In addition to her daughter, survivors include five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. Her husband died in 1979. A son, Dr. Marvin M. Small, died in 2001. Her companion of 26 years, Dr. Max Ansell, died in 2006.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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