When the Roland Park Library needed a new roof in 2005, restaurateur Eddie Dopkin was quick to step in.
"He said, 'We'll have a fundraiser and call it Raise the Roof,'" recalls Susan Newhouse, who at the time was raising money to renovate and expand the branch. "He came up with the name and did the event for us at Miss Shirley's."
To the public, Dopkin, who died Oct. 19 of leukemia at age 61, was best known as owner of Miss Shirley's, S'ghetti Eddie's and Roland Park Bagel Co., former owner of Alonso's and Loco Hombre, and co-owner of Classic Catering People, in Owings Mills, one of the largest catering companies in Maryland. But to community leaders in the Roland Park area, he was equally respected for his altruism, commitment to the community, and ability to raise money and bring people together for various projects.
"Great man," e-mailed Roland Park resident Mary Page Michel, who worked with Dopkin on initiatives, including preserving open space and making facade improvements to businesses on West Cold Spring Lane. "Eddie was a pillar in the business community in Roland Park. He was the go-to guy for decades, from cookies and coffee for meetings (to) advice on all kinds of matters. He was aware that his business success impacted the neighborhood and he worked hard to respond to residents. He opened his restaurants for meetings or fundraisers. I can't remember him saying no."
Chris McSherry, president of the Roland Park Civic League, called Dopkin a wonderful neighbor," who "always did his part as a business owner to improve and strengthen all of the surrounding neighbors."
McSherry said Dopkin helped with the library initiative, neighborhood cleanups and parking problems on Cold Spring.
"He will be sorely missed throughout Roland Park and the city," she sad.
McSherry was among several community leaders who attended Dopkin’s full-house funeral at Sol Levinson Funeral Home in Pikesville on Monday, Oct. 21. Also spotted there were former civic league president Michael DiPietro, league member Al Copp and Joel Fidler, of Evergreen, who brainstormed with Dopkin on development ideas for West Cold Spring Lane.
The funeral home, which seats 500 in its main chapel, was so crowded that people watched on TV screens in the side chapel and in the lobby, where photos of Dopkin were displayed, along with bobbleheads of him from his 60th birthday celebration.
DiPietro recalled Dopkin picking up “a speck of trash” on the sidewalk outside the bagel shop. He also remembered Dopkin working hard to convince a skepical community that a liquor license for Miss Shirley’s would not lead to traffic and other problems.
“His word was his bond,” DiPietro said.
Rabbi Steven Fink of Temple Oheb Shalom eulogized Dopkin “one of the most charming people in Charm City,” who packed a lifetime of good deeds into 30 years since learning he had a rare form of leukemia.
“Eddie was a Baltimore icon and an example to us all,” Fink said.
Never said no
"I don't think he ever said no to any charity or good cause," Blumberg said. "He never talked about it, never used it as a wedge or a bragging point."
One time after an event at Miss Shirley's, Blumberg saw Dopkin counting silverware.
"He (didn't) forget where he came from," Blumberg said.
Spevak said Dopkin planted trees and paid for snow removal on Cold Spring, and was instrumental in helping to bring merchants to the table with community leaders to discuss projects.
"Eddie was a good adviser to me," Spevak said. "He was a master of bringing people together."