Philip I. Heuisler III dies at age 73

Former president of Ross-Matthai Co. later worked in automotive sales

August 05, 2010|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Philip Ignatius Heuisler III, a retired Baltimore businessman and longtime jazz aficionado, died July 30 of pneumonia at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 73.

Mr. Heuisler, the son of a businessman and a former O'Neill's department store buyer, was born in Baltimore and raised in Roland Park. His secondary education at Gilman School was interrupted in 1949 by a bout with poliomyelitis.

After spending six months at Children's Hospital, he wore a large brace on his upper body and right arm for several years.

"He persevered through this illness with a toughness and sense of humor that friends and family still talk about," said his brother, J. Stanley "Stan" Heuisler II, former editor of Baltimore Magazine, who lives in Roland Park.

He attended Loyola High School and graduated in 1955 from St. Francis Preparatory School in Spring Grove, Pa. He attended Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg and the Johns Hopkins University's McCoy College.

Mr. Heuisler went to work in 1958 as a salesman for Maryland Glass Corp., which had been founded in 1907 by his grandfather Philip I. Heuisler, a chemist and associate of Capt. Isaac E. Emerson, who helped create the formula for Bromo-Seltzer.

The company, which was part of the Emerson Drug Co., manufactured at its Wicomico Street plant the distinctive cobalt blue bottles that held Bromo-Seltzer, Phillips' Milk of Magnesia, Vicks Vapo-Rub, Noxzema and many other pharmaceutical products.

During his 17 years with the company, his father, Philip I. Heuisler Jr., was president and chairman of the board of Maryland Glass Corp.

After leaving the company in 1975, Mr. Heuisler was president of Ross-Matthai Co., a Baltimore-based tabletop accessories firm that made placemats, tablecloths and napkins.

In addition to overseeing operations of the company's Sisson Street manufacturing plant in Remington, Mr. Heuisler was also in charge of Ross-Matthai's Fifth Avenue showroom in New York City.

After retiring from Ross-Matthai in 1987, he worked in automotive sales for Miller Motors and later Brooks Buick until retiring in the 1990s.

In his retirement, he pursued golf and had the pleasure of playing at some of the most challenging courses in the world, including Pebble Beach and the Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland.

"He was an incredible golfer. He could putt from 50 yards off the green. He could hit a ball out of a bunker with an impossible high wall or from behind a tree and put it right near the hole, " said friend of 50 years, Robert M. "Bobby" Barroll of Ruxton. "Phil Mickelson would be jealous of Phil's putting ability."

Mr. Heuisler was also a self-described "jazz nut" whose idol was John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie, whom he was able to meet personally several times.

In 1993, while taking the train from Baltimore to New York to attend the funeral of Mr. Gillespie, he began talking to several people who turned out to be relatives of the legendary jazz trumpeter.

"They asked him to be an honorary usher and he handed out programs to an estimated crowd of 8,000 mourners at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine," his brother said.

"Phil could strike up a conversation with anybody. Another time, he was riding the club car and started talking to a man from England. When he left, people asked Phil if he knew whom he had been speaking," Mr. Heuisler said. "When he told them no, they said he'd been talking to Paul McCartney."

Another musical friend was the late Ellis Larkins, the Baltimore-born jazz pianist.

"Phil bumped into him in the Carnegie Delicatessen in New York, and they became friends. Mr. Larkins later played for family and friends at Phil's 60th birthday party in Baltimore," Mr. Heuisler said.

"Phil was a raconteur who loved to tell stories," said John B. Howard, a retired Venable LLP lawyer and a longtime friend. "He was a fine person and a person of substance. We'd go fishing and duck hunting together, and I always enjoyed his company," said Mr. Howard, who lives in the Charlesbrooke neighborhood of Baltimore County.

"He had a fabulous personality and a collection of hilarious stories. People enjoyed being around Phil," said Mr. Barroll. "People from all walks of life loved him. He was a person who made everyone happy."

Mr. Heuisler was an active parishioner of the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and had also served as a board member of the Mother Seton House, which his parents had been instrumental in restoring.

The longtime North Roland Park resident had also been a member of the boards of the Baltimore Jazz Foundation and the March of Dimes.

He was a member of the Elkridge Club and the Bachelors Cotillion.

"He had a strong sense of priorities: wife, family, Catholic faith, friends, jazz and golf," his brother said. "He ecumenically loved people."

A Mass of Christian burial for Mr. Heuisler will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday at his church, 5200 N. Charles St.

Also surviving are his wife of 50 years, the former Alice Anne Wilson; a son, Philip I. Heuisler IV of New Hope, Minn.; two daughters, Anne Elizabeth Heuisler of Santa Monica, Calif., and Jeannette H. Dunworth of Lutherville; and four grandchildren.

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