Betty Davidov

Co-owner of the Tuxedo Pharmacy in Roland Park was a well-known figure during her seven-decade career.

December 17, 2008|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,

Betty Davidov, who became a well-known Roland Park figure during her nearly seven-decade career working at Tuxedo Pharmacy, died Sunday of complications from a stroke at Gilchrist Hospice Care. She was 97.

Betty Tskases was born in Ukraine. With the coming of the Russian Revolution, she immigrated with her family to Baltimore in 1918, where relatives had settled.

She was raised on Pulaski Street in West Baltimore, where her father established a wholesale confection and tobacco business.

After graduating from Western High School in 1929, she earned her nursing degree from the old Sinai Hospital School of Nursing, which was then on East Monument Street.

In 1935, she married Louis Davidov, a pharmacist. Two years later, the couple purchased Tuxedo Pharmacy in the 5100 block of Roland Ave.

"I really don't know how they did it, because in those days, there were covenants about Jews owning houses in Roland Park," said a son, Harold Davidov of Rockland, a co-owner and managing partner of the business, which remains family-owned. "I think they were the only Jews who owned a business at that time on Roland Avenue."

Mr. Davidov said his father wasn't particularly interested in having his wife work at the drugstore, which in those early days also featured a lunch counter and soda fountain.

"Of course, my father didn't want her to work. That's the way it was in those days. But she slowly became interested in the pharmacy," he said.

"Plus, they had no money. It was the Depression. But soon, she was spending more and more time in the store, and they were hustling to make it," Mr. Davidov said.

The counter disappeared in a store expansion in the early 1960s, which gave the couple more room for inventory.

Mrs. Davidov and her family lived above the store until moving to Pikesville in the 1950s.

"My brother and I worked in the business as well. During the 1940s and 1950s, we sold Christmas trees in front of the store, which provided us money that took care of our social life for the next year," he said.

Mrs. Davidov's varied roles included business manager, cosmetician, buyer of nondrug-related items and public relations director.

"She truly loved going to work every day," her son said.

Dorothy M. Ward has been a Tuxedo customer and friend of Mrs. Davidov's for years.

"She was as well-known as Lou Rankin from Eddie's, who just died. The customers just loved them, and they knew their customers," Mrs. Ward said. "The two stores were right next door to each other, and that business block of Roland Avenue has a real small-town feel to it."

Charles Stout, a retired Alex. Brown & Sons stockbroker, began patronizing the Tuxedo Pharmacy as a student at nearby Gilman School in the 1940s.

"We always called her 'Miss Betty,' and she was one of the finest ladies I've ever known," Mr. Stout said. "She was a kind, thoughtful and a gentle person."

Phyllis J. Cadwalder, another longtime customer, recalled Mrs. Davidov's responsiveness when asked to place special orders or in answering requests.

"She had so much spirit, and everyone admired her. She was like family to me," Mrs. Cadwalder said.

Mrs. Davidov continued coming to work even after she stopped driving in 2001. She was 93 when she retired in 2004.

"Her advice was sought by customers, from what vitamins to take to child rearing and how to navigate the trials and tribulations of life," her son said. "She served four generations of customers, many of whom became lifelong friends."

For the past seven years, Mrs. Davidov lived at the Brightwood retirement community in Lutherville.

She enjoyed cooking and entertaining family and friends. She also liked reading, following the stock market and having a shot of Jack Daniel's on the rocks, relatives said.

Her husband died in 1982.

Mrs. Davidov was a member of Beth Tfiloh Congregation.

At her death, Mrs. Davidov was surrounded by her family.

"When she took her last breath, someone said, 'Let's give her a hand,' and we gave her one and cheered her life," her son said.

Private services were yesterday.

Also surviving are another son and Tuxedo pharmacist, Arnold Lee Davidov of Guilford; a daughter, Myrna Goldberg of Pikesville; four grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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