Wil­liam O. Stein­metz

Mary­land In­sti­tute Col­lege of Art teacher and de­voted alum­nus founded The Store Ltd. at Vil­lage of Cross Keys

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly jac­ques.kelly@balt­sun.com

Wil­liam O. Stein­metz, an artist and de­signer who worked along­side his wife as a Vil­lage of Cross Keys mer­chant, died of a heart dis­ease Tues­day at his Rider­wood home. He was 89.

Mr. Stein­metz had a 76-year as­so­ci­a­tion with Mary­land In­sti­tute Col­lege of Art, where he took his first Satur­day classes as a 13-year-old. He be­came a trustee of the school and its alumni chair, and as re­cently as last week he re­turned for its “Bal­ti­more Ris­ing” ex­hi­bi­tion.

“I call him a MICA evan­ge­list. In many ways, he and his wife, Betty, are role mod­els of pas­sion­ate and ded­i­cated alumni,” said Sa­muel Hoi, MICA pres­i­dent. “Their life sto­ries are in­trin­si­cally con­nected to the school. They met here and are our quin­tes­sen­tial love story. Their gen­eros­ity has been out­stand­ing.”

Born in Bal­ti­more and raised on Dean Street in High­land­town, he was the son of Ge­orge Stein­metz, an Esso re­fin­ery worker, and Matilda Stein­metz.

He took MICA­courses in a Satur­day morn­ing pro­gram while on a Carnegie Foun­da­tion schol­ar­ship be­cause Polytech­nic In­sti­tute, from which he grad­u­ated, did not of­fer art in­struc­tion.

He served in the Army from 1945 to 1947, then earned a de­gree at MICA in 1950 and im­me­di­ately joined its fac­ulty.

Mr. Stein­metz taught fun­da­men­tals of de­sign and also chaired the in­dus­trial de­sign depart­ment un­til he re­tired from teach­ing in 1969. He re­mained ac­tive in the school’s alumni af­fairs.

“When I first came to MICA to be in­ter­viewed for the pres­i­dency, al­most 40 years ago, I met Bill and have been part of his fan club ever since,” said Fred Lazarus IV, the school’s pres­i­dent emer­i­tus.

“Bill had a love af­fair with Bal­ti­more, MICA, our artists and our in­sti­tu­tions,” Mr. Lazarus said. “His span of in­ter­est went from the painted screens to the work of a young dig­i­tal artists to our crafts peo­ple. He en­gaged them all in con­ver­sa­tion and never for­got them or what they said.”

As a 21-year-old art stu­dent, Mr. Stein­metz re­ceived a phone call from The Even­ing Sun’s ed­i­tors, in­form­ing him he was the grand win­ner of the pa­per’s an­nual sketch con­test.

“You’re kid­ding,” he said, ac­cord­ing in a 1948 Even­ing Sun ar­ti­cle. “Just hold the phone while I get my breath.”

Stein­metz’s brood­ing pic­ture of a group of row­houses in the 3500 block of Fos­ter Ave. was selected by the three judges. He won $125, pre­sented by Province­town, Mass., artist Karl Knaths, one of the judges. Mr. Stein­metz said that it took him “about 20 min­utes” to com­plete the sketch.

Afew years later another piece, “Strolling Nuns,” took honors at the Peale Mu­seum’s an­nual “Life in Bal­ti­more” ex­hi­bi­tion.

Mr. Stein­metz earned part of his MICA tu­ition by work­ing at the old Esso re­fin­ery along Bos­ton Street. He also re­ceived a schol­ar­ship.

Af­ter World War II, while a MICA stu­dent, he took a de­sign and ma­te­ri­als course taught by Betty Cooke. They later dated — he had a house in the 800 block of Tyson St. and she lived in the 900 block. They married in 1955. She de­signed and made jew­elry and also of­fered art ob­jects for sale. They even­tu­ally ex­panded a shop and de­sign stu­dio into an L-shaped col­lec­tion of build­ings at Read and Tyson streets. They worked with ar­chi­tects to cre­ate in­te­ri­ors and color schemes for com­mer­cial prop­er­ties, in­clud­ing shop­ping cen­ters.

In the 1960s, they used Her­man Miller, Eames and Ber­toia fur­ni­ture in a project at East­point’s Mis­chan­ton’s Res­tau­rant. They also had a con­tract to do in­te­ri­ors and a color pal­ette for Fair Lanes Bowl­ing Cen­ters.

In 1965, the cou­ple ac­cepted an of­fer from Columbia devel­oper James Rouse to open a shop at the then-new Vil­lage of Cross Keys on Falls Road. They called their busi­ness The Store Ltd. The busi­ness re­mains open 51 years later.

“Bill had an eye for buy­ing,” said his wife. “He was also very good at dis­plays and mer­chan­dis­ing. As a graphic de­signer, he could make an ex­cel­lent ad. He was creative, and he worked with the other shop own­ers to made ads for all of Cross Keys.”

The cou­ple worked daily at The Store.

“Bill was won­der­ful with cus­tomers,” said his wife. “We’ve been there so long that we’ve gone through three and four gen­er­a­tions of fam­i­lies.

“His for­mer stu­dents fol­lowed him to the shop. They would tell him what he taught them in 1950 was as valid to­day as it was then.”

Said Mr. Lazarus: “Bill and Betty were two sides of the same coin — each brought out the best in each other and gave so much to all of us.”

In ad­di­tion to a schol­ar­ship Mr. Stein­metz and his wife es­tab­lished at MICA, they also cre­ated a lec­ture se­ries and week­long de­sign work­shop. They also funded a per­for­mance space called the B-Box at the cor­ner of Mount Royal and North av­enues.

In 2014, MICA awarded him a doc­tor­ate of hu­mane let­ters. A ci­ta­tion in the MICA com­mence­ment pro­gram read: “Wil­liam Stein­metz, you are as much a part of MICA as is any phys­i­cal struc­ture on cam­pus. You are part of the fab­ric of its cul­ture and a sym­bol of its heart and soul. ... You have shared your ex­pe­ri­ences as an artist and en­tre­pre­neur with MICA stu­dents, help­ing them fash­ion their own ca­reers by look­ing forward through a lens only you can pro­vide.”

A vis­i­ta­tion will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sun­day at Ruck Tow­son Fu­neral Home, 1050 York Road. Plans for a me­mo­rial ser­vice at MICA are in­com­plete.

In ad­di­tion to his wife of 61 years, sur­vivors in­clude his sis­ter, Amy Miller of Vir­ginia; and nieces and neph­ews. A son, David Stein­metz, died in 1982. Wil­liam Stein­metz be­gan teach­ing at MICA af­ter his 1950 grad­u­a­tion from the school.

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