Douglas R. Legenhausen, jewelry designer

He had his own jewelry design firm

  • Douglas R. Legenhausen
Douglas R. Legenhausen (Baltimore Sun )
September 26, 2014|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | The Baltimore Sun

Douglas R. Legenhausen, a jewelry designer and master craftsman who worked in iron, gold and silver, died Sept. 20 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson of complications from back surgery. He was 69.

The son of Chester Legenhausen, a house painter, and June Legenhausen, a homemaker, Douglas Raymond Legenhausen was born in Queens, N.Y., and was raised in Ossining, N.Y., and Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

After graduating in 1964 from Mahopac High School in Mahopac, N.Y., he earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts in 1969 from the Rochester Institute of Technology and a master's degree in 1972 in fine arts from the Rhode Island School of Design.

"In 1964, he was working for a German company and helped design the corpus that was suspended over Michelangelo's 'Pieta' that was displayed at the 1964 World's Fair in New York," said his wife of 46 years, the former Dr. Elizabeth "Betty" Iacovone, who was head of St. James Academy in Monkton from 1987 until 2012, when she retired.

In the late 1960s, Mr. Legenhausen designed another corpus that was installed over the altar of the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer on North Charles Street.

Mr. Legenhausen founded DRL Inc., a jewelry design firm, in 1967. In 1974, he moved to Baltimore to work for Samuel Kirk & Sons — which merged in 1979 with the Stieff Co. to become became Kirk-Stieff Co. — designing flatware and holloware.

After leaving the Kirk-Stieff Co. in the early 1990s, Mr. Legenhausen devoted himself to his own business, DRL, which was located downtown in the Jeweler's Building at Calvert and Lombard streets and later moved to Deereco Road in Timonium. Since last year, the firm has been located in Hunt Valley.

"He designed and created pieces for hundreds of Baltimore men and women who cherish his work, gracious and patient demeanor, his gentle wit, and his unappalled honesty," said his wife, who added that she and her husband had been sweethearts since the third grade.

"He worked with me on jewelry that I had designed. He helped me make it. These were pieces we sold in the store," said Betty Cook, who has owned The Store Ltd in Cross Keys since 1965.

"He worked in gold and silver and set stones. He was very versatile and did what we call jewelry forging. He also did resizing for customers," said Ms. Cook, who said she had known Mr. Legenhausen since the 1970s.

"He was a very, very nice fellow, good with people, and a kind and gentle man," she said. "He was very easy to work with because he was humble. He was jolly and always saw the positive notes in things."

Diane Neas, a Baltimore restaurant consultant, was also a longtime customer.

"His work was very stylized, but he would listen and do what you want," said Ms. Neas, who collected antique watch chains, which Mr. Legenhausen then fashioned into bracelets with a clasp.

Mr. Legenhausen made headlines in 1992 when on Valentine's Day afternoon, he drove his car into Harbor Park Garage, a downtown parking garage, and was abducted by gunman Dontay Carter.

After taking his wallet and several hundred dollars, the gunman ordered Mr. Legenhausen into the vehicle's trunk. He drove the car to the top of the garage, stopped, opened the trunk and demanded more money.

"That's when I thought he was going to kill me," Mr. Legenhausen told The Baltimore Sun at the time.

When he failed to produce an ATM card, Carter pushed Mr. Legenhausen back into the trunk and partially closed the lid.

As the car roared over a garage speed bump, a light in the trunk went on. Mr. Legenhausen removed the cover from the trunk lock and pried off the electrical mechanism that allowed the trunk to pop open.

Entering a city street, Mr. Legenhausen started waving his scarf and yelling to passers-by, "I'm being kidnapped, call the police!"

What Mr. Legenhausen didn't know was that a few cars behind his was a police car. When his car slowed down, he jumped out of the trunk and ran to the curb. His assailant was immediately arrested.

Mr. Legenhausen enjoyed hosting an annual July Fourth gathering for family and friends that included dinner and fireworks.

"Doug was the great barbecuer and had multiple grills as he did lawn mowers," said Ms. Neas, laughing.

"There was lobster and corn on the cob. He cooked the lobsters and then cracked them for everyone, and you could just lift out the meat," she said.

When dinner was over and darkness fell, Mr. Legenhausen entertained his guests by launching his own display of pyrotechnics.

"July Fourth will never be the same again without Doug," Ms. Neas said.

Mr. Legenhausen was a student of ancient, medieval and Civil War history. He also was a lifelong world traveler.

Mr. Legenhausen donated his body to Anatomy Gifts Registry in Hanover for further scientific study, his wife said.

Plans for an outdoor memorial gathering to be held in October at St. James Episcopal Church in Monkton are incomplete.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Legenhausen is survived by two sons, Erik Legenhausen of Towson and Kurt Legenhausen of Oakton, Va.; and five grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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