Stanley Sindler, the lighthearted Eddie's North Charles Street grocery store greeter whose wit and friendliness along with his trademark "Hey, babe" could win over the most harried shopper, died May 26 of pancreatic cancer at Gilchrist Hospice Care.
The longtime Pikesville resident was 72.
The son of a store owner and a homemaker, Mr. Sindler was born in Baltimore and raised on Park Heights Avenue. During his teenage years, he lived on Rubin Avenue.
In 1956, Mr. Sindler dropped out of City College in the 11th grade and enlisted in the Navy, where he served as a radarman.
"Stan loved to travel and see the world. He also loved San Diego, where he had been stationed during his Navy career," said his wife of 30 years, the former Marcia Leboe.
After leaving the service in 1960, Mr. Sindler sold insurance and repaired television sets before taking a job in 1962 at Luskin's at Eastpoint Mall.
He was promoted to assistant manager and then became an appliance buyer. From the late 1970s until 1984, he worked for Hutzler's department store as a TV and stereo buyer.
Mr. Sindler and his father opened a convenience store in 3900 North Charles. After selling the business, Mr. Sindler established Trotter's, a convenience store in a high-rise at Lexington and St. Paul streets.
After selling this business, Mr. Sindler grew restless in retirement.
"I told him, 'Stan get a job,'" his wife said.
Steve Kuehn, who is the general manager of Eddie's North Charles Street, hired Mr. Sindler in 2002.
"Stan came in off the street for an interview, and I hired him on the spot," said Mr. Kuehn. "He was a talker, a good people person, and wanted to work. It was perfect."
He recalled that Mr. Sindler "really loved that job. Stan was just a really good guy who loved to talk, and he'll be sorely missed around here."
"When I asked him what his job was about, he explained, 'It's patting people on the tuchis,'" Mrs. Sindler said with a laugh.
In responding to customers who greeted him, Mr. Sindler bestowed upon them a finely tuned and quickly delivered"Hey, babe."
Mr. Kuehn said customers were shocked to learn of the death of Mr. Sindler, who had been at his post as recently as two weeks ago. "Many of them had tears in their eyes because they just couldn't believe it," he said.
Carl Trudel had been Mr. Sindler's sidekick for the past nine years in the front of the store, where they responded to customers' inquiries, unloaded grocery carts and occasionally stepped behind the cash register.
"We're really front-end supervisors; we greet customers, help people find things around the store and unload carts. We keep things going smoothly," said Mr. Trudel, who began working at the grocery store in 1999.
"Stan was a fixture at Eddie's. Any questions you had about Baltimore, you went to him. He knew the history of the city and so many people. They were key points of his job," he said.
He recalled that Mr. Sindler had been in Rome during his Navy days and was in St. Peter's Square one day when the pope came out and blessed the crowd and their religious medals, which they held aloft.
Mr. Sindler held up a mezuzah, a parchment often attached to doorposts of Jewish homes, his wife said.
"When I asked Stan about this, he said, 'It couldn't hurt,'" Mr. Trudel said with a laugh.
"And because he seemingly knew everyone in the world, I said, 'You should have been on the balcony with the pope, but then again someone in the crowd would probably say, 'Who's that guy with Sindler?'"
Mr. Sindler's wife added: "Stan said, 'If he can bless a cross, he can bless a mezuzah.'"
Mr. Trudel said his friend's willingness to laugh was based on an often-repeated piece of philosophy.
"Stan would say, 'Life's too short.' That's why he was always upbeat," he said.
Mary Garson, who is one of the personal shoppers at Eddie's, was a close friend.
"He was a lovely person who had the gift of making everyone feel very welcome. He was proud of that. It was a big deal to Stan," said Ms. Garson. "And he lived life to the fullest."
Rabbi Steve Schwartz of Beth El Congregation, where Mr. Sindler was a longtime member, recalled him in his eulogy at services May 29 at Sol Levinson & Bros.
Mr. Schwartz remembered talking to Mr. Sindler in the hospital after he had received a terminal diagnosis.
"Many people in that situation would struggle with the moment, be overwhelmed with sadness, or ask why, or both, but that was not Stanley," he told the gathered mourners.
"Instead, he was almost philosophical, and he said, 'Rabbi, we'll see what happens, but I've had a good run, I've lived a good life, I've got a great family, and the truth is, I can't complain.'"
He characterized Mr. Sindler as "a kibitzer par excellence." He said that upon leaving the hospital room, he was advised by his friend, '"Rabbi, you stay out of trouble now,' as if it was the most natural thing in the world to say to his rabbi. Then he gave me one of his patented smiles."