A. Harvey Schreter

[ Age 91 ] Necktie manufacturer and world traveler collected and donated pre-Columbian, African and Pacific art.

Mr. Schreter worked as a deckhand on a banana boat and once hitchhiked across the country on $58.

January 07, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

A. Harvey Schreter, a retired necktie manufacturer and world traveler, died of cancer Dec. 31 at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Northwest Baltimore resident was 91.

Born in Havre de Grace, he was the son of a Hungarian immigrant who opened a tie-making business in New York City and later moved it to Harford County and Baltimore.

After graduating from Forest Park High School in 1934, Mr. Schreter considered attending the University of Maryland's agricultural school. He was then raising 1,000 chickens behind his family's Glen Avenue home. A school official told his father, "Mr. Schreter, with this boy's background, I think he'd be better in the tie business than in agricultural school."

He attended the University of Maryland, but, he said in later years, he found college "boring" and dropped out after two years.

As a teenager, Mr. Schreter worked as a deckhand on a banana boat between Baltimore and Cuba and once hitchhiked across the country on $58.

During the summer of 1934, two years before he joined the family tie business, Mr. Schreter and a friend went to the Chicago World's Fair. "Mindful of the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre, he and his buddy strapped adhesive tape around their wrists with their names and addressees on it, "just to make sure,'" a 1986 Sun article quoted him as saying.

In 1982, Mr. Schreter became a member of the Explorers Club and frequently lectured on his world travels to remote places with his wife, the former Phyllis Kolker.

A visit to the Walters Art Museum as a 13-year-old taking violin lessons at the nearby Peabody Conservatory of Music changed his life.

"What I saw excited me, made me want to experience more, to experience as much of this world as I could," he told Charles C. Flippen, chairman of the Towson University mass communications department, late last year.

Mr. Schreter expanded his father's tie-making business. By 1986, he employed 130 workers. The Neckwear Association of America ranked his business in the top 10 sales producers in the industry. He made ties for L.L. Bean, Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and old department stores - Julius Garfinckle in Washington, Miller & Rhoads in Richmond, Va., and Hutzler's in Baltimore. He also made ties with corporate logos for Coca-Cola, the New York Stock Exchange, McDonald's, General Motors and Giant Food.

"Workers in the production plant at 600 Pulaski Street turn out more than 30,000 ties a week," the 1986 Sun article said.

Mr. Schreter visited his sales office in New York City twice a week. He also invented and patented a clip-on tie, whose manufacture he licensed throughout Europe.

In that period, he signed a contract with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington to create a Smithsonian Neckwear Collection. He made ties showing a Conestoga wagon, a Navajo rug and a Wurlitzer jukebox.

He spent three to five weeks a year traveling to remote parts of the world and took numerous photos for monthly travel talks he gave. He also picked up ideas for tie patterns on these trips. While in China in the 1970s, he created a "Cultures of Man" series of ties featuring a lotus flower and a chrysanthemum, among other designs. He also had Greek and Peruvian lines of ties.

"What made my father so successful was his creativity within the tie industry," said his daughter, Carol Schreter of Baltimore.

He sold the neckwear business in 1991.

After being diagnosed with prostate cancer nearly 15 years ago, Mr. Schreter created a set of exercises to manage urinary and bowel incontinence.

"He was able to enjoy the life he wished to live after devising and doing these exercises," said his daughter. "Last summer, he was still putting on his waders and fishing in trout streams for hours."

Mr. Schreter was also collected rocks and made jewelry for his family. He collected pre-Columbian, African and Pacific art and donated many examples to university and community museums. He sat on the Baltimore Museum of Art African art accessions committee.

He was a founding member in 1938 of the Beth Jacob Congregation and served on the boards of the old Associated Jewish Charities and the Jewish Family and Children's Services. He also sat on the board of the B'nai Brith Abraham Schreter Lodge.

Graveside services were held Thursday.

In addition to his daughter and wife of 65 years, survivors include a son, Robert Schreter of Lutherville; and two granddaughters.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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