Edward Henry Weiss, a retired marketing executive who put the name Wacky Noodle on a children's flotation device used in swimming pools, died of a stroke Monday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Timonium resident was 74.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., he was the son of Sidney Weiss, who owned a printing business, and the former Fannie Brand, a homemaker. As a student at Abraham Lincoln High School, he played the saxophone and clarinet in the school band. He befriended a classmate, a young composer and performer, Neil Sedaka, who wrote hits including "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do."
"In the summer my husband and Neil would go to the Catskills early in the season," said his wife, Susan Pace Weiss. "They played together until the better-known bands came up. They got their room and board."
Mr. Weiss earned a bachelor's degree in marketing from the New York University School of Commerce. He later earned a master's degree at the Johns Hopkins University.
He worked in marketing in New York for two decades before moving to Baltimore and becoming head of marketing for Life-Like Products, a hobby business founded by Baltimoreans Sol and Lou Kramer. He worked from what is now the Union Mill in Hampden, where Life-Like employees made scenery for train layouts.
"We worked for some tough management, and throughout it all, Ed had a smile on his face," said Christian "Chris" Keller, a former colleague. "Ed was a smart guy, and he brought a lot to the table when he came to Baltimore."
Mr. Keller, who is the chief financial officer of what is now called Lifoam Industries LLC, recalled that Mr. Weiss felt that the business, which had lines of miniature plastic hobby buildings, landscaping materials, toy cars and streetlights, needed a better line of HO-scale model trains.
"Ed was instrumental in bringing in a higher-end set of trains called the Proto Line," said Mr. Keller, a Timonium resident. "They were made in Germany by the Brawa firm and sold well."
Life-Like also made lightweight plastic foam products including picnic chests and later an extruded foam cylindrical tube sold for children's use in swimming pools.
"We were among the first manufacturers to come out with it," said Mr. Keller. "Ed called it the Wacky Noodle, and it stuck."
After getting his master's degree and working at Monarch Avalon Hill Printing in Baltimore and at Advanced Distribution Systems in Upper Marlboro, N.J. Mr. Weiss began teaching marketing at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School. He was an adjunct faculty member and taught in downtown Baltimore and at the school's Washington location.
Mr. Weiss continued playing the alto and tenor saxophone. He liked to improvise blues and jazz.
"He loved Dave Brubeck's jazz and saw him perform one year at Artscape," his wife said.
He was a founding member of the Powerhouse Big Band and played in concerts at the Community College of Baltimore County's Essex campus. He also appeared with the ensemble at Oregon Ridge.
"Ed was a talented musician, and he produced a beautiful sound from his sax. He sounded like Dave Brubeck's player, Paul Desmond," said the band's director, Ashton Fletcher, a White Marsh resident. "You could just put the music in front of him and he could read it. He was also so easy to get along with."
Mr. Weiss enjoyed traveling throughout Europe and had a special fondness for Paris, which he visited numerous times. He was a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Center Stage subscriber. He also attended numerous events at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where he was a member.
"He was particularly interested in prints because his father was a printer," his wife said.
Services were held Thursday at Sol Levinson and Bros.
In addition to his wife of more than 52 years, a former principal in the Calvert School's home study division who was later a Sylvan Learning divisional director, survivors include two daughters, Felicia Weiss of Washington and Max Weiss of Baltimore; and a brother, Charles Weiss of Blacksburg, Va.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun