John G. Edelmann

Age 92 A printer by trade, he served as principal of the old Mergenthaler School of Printing in Baltimore.

July 11, 2008|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun Reporter

John George Edelmann, a printer and former principal of the old Mergenthaler School of Printing, died of congestive heart failure Saturday at Oak Crest Village retirement community. The former Towson resident was 92.

Born and raised in Violetville, he was a 1934 graduate of City College, where he played football, lacrosse and water polo. He attended the old Mergenthaler School of Printing and graduated at the top of his class, family members said.

After graduation he worked for several years at Alco Gravure and then at Schneidereith & Sons, where he printed classified government military reports during World War II.

"He viewed printing as an art," said his grandson, Matthew Craig of Ruxton. "He would spend hours lining up type on a page so it would resemble more of a picture than a page of print."

In the late 1940s, Mr. Edelmann earned a degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and left the printing industry to become a printing teacher. He initially taught at Southern High School, where one of his students was Al Kaline, who went on to become a Hall of Fame outfielder for the Detroit Tigers. The two remained friends and corresponded.

Mr. Edelmann was later named principal of the old Mergenthaler School of Printing at Greenmount Avenue and Eager Street. It merged in 1952 with two other city vocational schools to become the Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School in Northwood.

"He loved the printed word. He looked for good paper and beautiful books," said his daughter, Joan Edelmann Craig of Ruxton. "He had a real sense of what was right and was a man of integrity. He lived by the phrase, 'Be ever mindful of the needs of others.'"

At Mergenthaler Vo-Tech, he was the printing specialist for the Baltimore school system. He was also principal of the Mergenthaler night school program and retired in 1978.

Active in the printing industry, in 1939 he joined the International Association of Printing House Craftsmen, which he served in numerous capacities. He was president of the Baltimore chapter during the 1960s. In 1997, the chapter recognized him as a "Legend of the Printing Industry."

"He knew how to make a page look terrific," said his daughter, Janet Edelmann of Philadelphia. "He knew the right type to select. He particularly liked hand composition."

While Mr. Edelmann was trained to use movable, metal type, he learned to use a computer.

"He was right in there with cutting-edge communications," said his daughter, Ms. Craig.

In a 2004 newsletter, the association's international chairman, Bill Orr, acknowledged Mr. Edelmann as the international organization's longest-serving active member and described him as a "classy man of great intelligence and energy. For John, it was all about the people."

Mr. Edelmann was an honorary lifetime member of the Litho Club of Baltimore.

Mr. Edelmann belonged to the Masons, Scottish Rite and the Boumi Temple. He traveled extensively and enjoyed the social events of the printing and Masonic groups.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Oak Crest chapel, 8801 Walther Blvd.

In addition to his two daughters and grandson, survivors include a sister, Lucille Harrison of Easton. His wife of nearly 69 years, the former Valli Berndt, died in March.

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