Paul Frederick Obrecht (Baltimore Sun )
Paul Frederick Obrecht, a well-known Baltimore warehouse developer whose various projects included Moravia Industrial Park, died Nov. 3 from complications of a stroke at his Lutherville home.
He was 82.
Mr. Obrecht, who went by P. Frederick Obrecht and preferred to be called Fred, was born in Baltimore and raised in Glen Arm.
He was a 1947 graduate of Gilman School and attended Princeton University.
In the late 1940s, he joined his father, George F. Obrecht, in managing the family feed and grain business that had been founded as P. Frederick Obrecht & Son by his grandfather in 1865. The business was later located at 514 Light St. and Paca and Pratt streets.
In addition to Baltimore, the company also maintained operations in Hoods Mill, Carroll County, and Indianapolis.
Mr. Obrecht, who was known as "Big Fred," eventually changed the focus of the business by transitioning it from hay, grain and feed to a warehouse operation, when he established P. Frederick Obrecht & Sons.
"Big Fred was a very bright guy. The timing was right when he entered the development business," said H. John Bremermann III, who is vice president and general counsel of the business that is now known as Obrecht Properties LLC.
"There was more demand for the space rather than grain. He started building speculative warehouses without tenants. He stuck with that concept because that's what he did best," said Mr. Bremermann.
In 1958, Mr. Obrecht was joined in the business by his brother, Charles F. Obrecht of Roland Park. A year later, the co-owners of the company began developing Baltimore's first industrial park, Moravia Industrial Park, in the Moravia Road and Pulaski Highway area of the city.
"The 53-acre tract is served by major rail lines and arterial highways," The Baltimore Sun reported when the company announced that it was breaking ground for several warehouses, one that was to be used as a warehouse and distribution center by John's Bargain Stores of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Other flagship tenants in the industrial park included the Yale and Towne Manufacturing Co., which would occupy 3,600 feet and a 1,000 sure-foot "modern office," reported the newspaper, and the Horace E. Potts Co.
"This project represents a new concept in steel warehouse service, contemplating 24-hour delivery of complete steel stocks to Baltimore area customers as well as delivery to steel users in the Washington-Maryland-Virginia area," noted the newspaper.
The company also expanded from development into the area of brokerage and property management.
Some of the company's projects include Bynum Run Business Center in Harford County, Deer Park Center in Timonium, Highland Marine Terminal, Quarry Lake at Greenspring and Sparks Corporate Center.
"We worked together for 53 years, and if I had to characterize Fred, I'd say that he was extraordinarily able and smart. He combined that with another ability," said his brother. "No matter what a person's status was in the world, he always treated them with generosity and kindness and tried to make them feel good."
Mr. Bremermann, who had known Paul Frederick Obrecht since he was a fifth-grader, went to work for Obrecht Properties in 1985.
"He never liked the limelight and liked remaining behind the scenes. He didn't like drawing attention to himself or his company," he said. "He was intensely honorable and a man of few words, and when he spoke, he had something to say. He was a true gentleman."
At his death, Mr. Obrecht was semi-retired.
Mr. Obrecht was a former member of the Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, where he had chaired the building committee.
He was a member and former president of both the Indian Creek Country Club in Indian Creek Village, Fla., and the Greenspring Valley Hunt Club. He was also a member of the Baltimore Country Club.
A sports fan, Mr. Obrecht was an avid golfer and had won the Greenspring-Elkridge Golf Tournament in 1965 with the late Jack Emich, who had been his brother-in-law.
Mr. Obrecht enjoyed spending winters at a second home in Miami.
His wife of 53 years, the former Marilyn Wilson, died in 2001.
Mr. Obrecht was a communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Owings Mills, where funeral services were held Monday.
In addition to his brother, Mr. Obrecht is also survived by his wife of five years, the former Joy Smith; four sons, Paul Frederick Obrecht Jr. and Thomas F. Obrecht, both of Owings Mills, George F. Obrecht of Stevenson and Richard F. Obrecht of Towson; a daughter, Susan Claire Obrecht Riehl of Owings Mills; two sisters, Jane Emich of Lutherville and Nancy Victor of Chicago; 14 grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.