Arthur Diamand

Dress shop owner who fled Nazi Germany gained his U.S. citizenship while serving in the Army in the Philippines

  • Arthur Diamand
Arthur Diamand
April 26, 2011|By Jacques Kelly, The Baltimore Sun | Baltimore Sun reporter

Arthur Diamand, who owned the Linda Lynn dress shops and was a World War II veteran, died of circulatory disease April 20 at Gilchrist Hospice Care. He was 96 and had homes in Florida and Pikesville.

Born in Munich, Germany, he was the son of Markus and Paula Diamand, who owned and operated a haberdashery. Mr. Diamand fled Nazi persecution by traveling to France and sailing to the U.S. from Cherbourg. He was able to enter the country through the sponsorship of his brother-in-law, a U.S. citizen who lived in New Jersey.

He landed in New York harbor on Feb. 12, 1936, as bands were playing to celebrate the completion of a section of construction of the Lincoln Tunnel. He once said he thought the music was for him.

"He was resourceful. He lived in New York and went into the subway and peddled dresses on the concourses," said his son, Marc Diamand of Owings Mills. "He was a very good salesman."

Mr. Diamand moved to Baltimore to take a management job at a West Lexington Street shop, Stanwick's, which had another nearby division, Gaxton's, on Charles Street. He met his future wife, Diane Sandler, while rooming with her aunt and uncle in Forest Park.

During World War II, Mr. Diamand joined the Army and was assigned to an infantry unit in the Philippines. While in the service, he earned his citizenship. In December 1945, as part of the occupation forces in Japan, he heard Japanese children singing Christmas carols in English. He told his family it was something he never forgot. He left military service as a staff sergeant.

"He was a proud American citizen, and he never allowed us to bring anything in the house that was made in Germany," his son said.

In 1951, he and his wife bought a women's clothing store, Linda Lynn, at Lexington Street near Park Avenue.

"While working at Gaxton's, he was reprimanded for putting a coat on a black woman," his son said. "This left an impression on him, and when he had his own store, he said it would be open to all. His policy went against what was being done at the time, but he believed in it."

Mr. Diamand went on to found other Linda Lynn locations. In 1958, he opened in Towson Plaza and then expanded his operation to Westview, Eastpoint, Easton, Frederick, Hagerstown, Harundale, Golden Ring and Bel Air.

His son said his father saw the sales potential of opening his doors on the Fourth of July and New Year's Day before it was customary.

He retired in 1992 when he closed the chain. He had spent more than six decades in the clothing business.

Mr. Diamand had homes on Slade Avenue in Pikesville and in Florida. At 76, he enrolled at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where he audited classes for 12 years. He studied history, politics and current events. He enjoyed classical music, landscape design and golf.

A graveside service was held Friday at Beth El Memorial Park. He was a member of Beth El Congregation.

In addition to his wife of 68 years and son, survivors include a daughter, Dr. Susan Grant of Phoenix in Baltimore County; three grandsons; and two great-grandsons.

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