Melvin Green­wald

Co-founder of down­town Bal­ti­more’s Arrow Park­ing busi­ness, stock mar­ket in­vestor who ac­quired build­ings

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - OBITUARIES - By Jacques Kelly [email protected]­sun.com

Melvin Green­wald, who co-founded down­town Bal­ti­more’s Arrow Park­ing busi­ness, died of heart fail­ure June 1 at the Levin­dale He­brew Geri­atric Cen­ter and Hos­pi­tal. The Pikesville res­i­dent was 91.

Born in Bal­ti­more, he was the son of Re­becca and Ben­jamin Green­wald. His fa­ther op­er­ated a Be­lair Mar­ket pro­duce stall. His mother was a Son­neborn and Co. seam­stress.

“They strug­gled fi­nan­cially, which made life tough,” his son, Ben Green­wald, shared in a writ­ten eu­logy. “In 7th grade my dad dropped out of school to help his fam­ily make a liv­ing by work­ing with his dad. He de­scribed to me the scene at the mar­ket and the mix of ven­dors and how tough it was to suc­ceed. … He said you just did what you did and didn’t think too much about it.

“When it came time for his bar-mitz­vah he de­scribed it as the worst day of his life. He took a street­car from his home on Rock­rose Ave. near Park Circle to the B’nai Is­rael Sy­n­a­gogue on Lloyd Street. Af­ter he fin­ished his bar-mitz­vah por­tion the rabbi spoke to him in Yid­dish and he had no idea what he was say­ing. The cel­e­bra­tion was a bag of kichel (cook­ies) and a bot­tle of whisky.”

The fam­ily strug­gled to make a liv­ing in 1920s and 1930s Bal­ti­more.

“My fa­ther used to tell me be­ing poor never re­ally both­ered him un­til he wit­nessed the hu­mil­i­a­tion of his par­ents when they had to bor­row money to pay for heat in the winter,” his son said. “The ex­pe­ri­ences of his child­hood gave him the drive to suc­ceed, to em­pathize with those less for­tu­nate and to place a value on ed­u­ca­tion be­cause of his lack of a for­mal ed­u­ca­tion.”

Mr. Green­wald served in the Army — where he earned his GED cer­tifi­cate with honors — and in the mer­chant ma­rine.

As a young man he worked with his brother, Elmer Green­wald, who owned Elmer’s Bar in a pre­gen­tri­fied Inner Har­bor.

“My dad would bar­tend once a week to re­lieve his brother,” his son said. “One night a fight broke out, my dad tried to break it up and got hit over the head with a bot­tle which needed stitches. He car­ried that scar the rest of his life, but he fin­ished his shift be­cause there was nobody to re­place him.”

He briefly was the District of Columbia sales­man for Gun­ther beer owned by his fa­ther-in-law, Abra­ham Krieger.

Mr. Green­wald be­came a savvy stock mar­ket in­vestor who later ac­quired the Mary­land Trust Co. Building at Calvert and Red­wood streets and the Drovers and Me­chan­ics Na­tional Bank at Fayette and Eutaw streets.

“Busi­ness was always incredibly im­por­tant to him,” his son said. “In 1977 he bro­kered a deal for a com­pany to lease the Rivoli Garage across from City Hall. He was asked to be a part­ner in the deal.”

Mr. Green­wald and his son cre­ated Arrow Park­ing in 1983, the year they bought their first garage. They con­tin­ued to own, lease, con­struct and man­age park­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

“Soon af­ter we got into the busi­ness, we went to a meet­ing of the Bal­ti­more Park­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, our trade organizati­on. Two of the mem­bers started to get into a fist fight, my dad be­ing the big strong guy he was broke the fight up and (garage owner) Allen Quille pro­claimed that we just found our new pres­i­dent, Mel Green­wald,” his son said. “A vote was taken im­me­di­ately and he be­came pres­i­dent that night.”

“The park­ing busi­ness gave my dad the iden­tity, con­fi­dence and fi­nan­cial suc­cess he had been search­ing for his en­tire ca­reer,” his son said.

Af­ter leas­ing the Morris A. Me­chanic The­atre garage, he ac­quired the en­tire com­plex af­ter the death of its owner, Clarisse B. Me­chanic.

His son said his fa­ther ap­pre­ci­ated his em­ploy­ees and gave gen­er­ous hol­i­day bonuses.

“He re­mem­bered how difficult it was to get through the winter from when he was a kid,” his son said. “He didn’t need a spread­sheet to fig­ure that out.”

He was a mem­ber of Chizuk Amuno Con­gre­ga­tion.

“The tra­di­tions of Ju­daism were very im­por­tant to my dad,” his son said. “The tra­di­tions that he fol­lowed rep­re­sented the link to his par­ents, grand­par­ents and past gen­er­a­tions of the Jewish peo­ple.”

Court of Spe­cial Ap­peals Judge Stu­art R. Berger, a fam­ily friend, said: “I loved Melvin be­cause he was an ex­traor­di­nary man who lived a full and won­der­ful life. I en­joyed his com­pany — he was so old-school. He was blunt, incredibly wise and streets­mart.”

Mr. Green­wald drove him­self to work ev­ery day un­til Oc­to­ber.

“He’d park his car in our Lom­bard Street garage, smoke a ci­gar in the garage of­fice and barely able to walk would proceed to walk across a very busy South Street to our of­fice.” his son said. “At the end of the day he would re­verse the process.”

Mr. Green­wald en­joyed meals at Lin­woods, Boca West and the The Prime Rib.

“And some other restau­rants he couldn’t find too much to com­plain about,” his son said. “He also en­joyed play­ing golf im­mensely.”

He was a reg­u­lar at Satur­day af­ter­noon get-to­geth­ers with his friends at the Cob­blers Shop on Saratoga Street. They dis­cussed cur­rent events.

“My dad en­joyed his vodka on the rocks with a lime. Not just a lime but a lime wedge,” his son said. “If he asked a bar­tender or server for a lime wedge and got a sliver, he would say, ‘What is that?’ They would re­ply, ‘A lime.’ He would say, ‘No, that’s a lime sliver, not a wedge, and I can’t squeeze a sliver, but I can squeeze a wedge.’ Like cut it in 4’s, not 8’s or 16’s thick­ness for my dad.”

His son said that Mr. Green­wald en­joyed giv­ing Tzedakah — char­ity — in a quiet, unas­sum­ing way.

“This was very im­por­tant to him,” his son said. “He didn’t do it be­cause he was on boards and com­mit­tees and or was di­rectly in­volved be­cause he didn’t like boards and com­mit­tees.”

He was a donor to the The As­so­ci­ated: Jewish Fed­er­a­tion of Bal­ti­more, var­i­ous Jewish day schools, Lit­tle Sis­ters of the Poor and Bal­ti­more Outreach Ser­vices.

In ad­di­tion to his son, sur­vivors in­clude his wife of 36 years, Joyce Rich; an­other son, Har­vey Olin, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida; three daugh­ters, Lois Cohen and Sherri Sacks, both of Owings Mills, and Made­line Links­man, of Westch­ester, New York; and 14 grand­chil­dren. His first wife of 27 years, Bet­tie Krieger, died in 1980.

Ser­vices were Mon­day at Sol Levin­son and Brothers.

Melvin Green­wald and his son, Ben, cre­ated Arrow Park­ing in 1983.

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