Joel J. "Buddy" Finkelstein, a businessman who also had been the official scorer at the Civic Center for the Baltimore Bullets, died April 24 of complications from Parkinson's disease at Boca Raton Regional Hospital in Florida.
The former Pikesville resident was 81.
Joel Jacob Finkelstein, who was known as "Buddy," was born in Baltimore and raised on Park Heights Avenue.
After graduating from City College in 1950, Mr. Finkelstein entered the University of Maryland, College Park. While attending college, he sold used cars at Johnny's Used Cars for two years to earn tuition money.
He then entered the University of Baltimore, from which he earned a law degree in 1954 and was admitted to the Maryland Bar.
In 1953, he married the former Ellen Stempler, whose father owned and operated Carter Industrial Laundry. The company became Textilease Corp. and had headquarters in Washington and later Beltsville.
Rather than practice law, Mr. Finkelstein went to work for his father-in-law's business as director of sales. He then moved to business development and helped expand the laundry from the Baltimore-Washington area to the surrounding five states.
Mr. Finkelstein left the business in 1970 when he took over Ace Uniform Services, which had been part of Textilease.
Ace, which is located in the 1800 block of Parkman Ave. in Baltimore and is now operated by two of his sons, is the largest independent industrial laundry in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Mr. Finkelstein, who moved to Boca Raton a decade ago, was semiretired at his death.
"Whenever he was in Baltimore, he was in the office," said a son, H. Bruce Finkelstein of Stevenson.
Mr. Finkelstein was a longtime Baltimore Bullets fan.
"As a kid, he regularly snuck into and hung around the old Baltimore Coliseum where the Bullets played as part of the American Basketball League, the Basketball Association of America, and the NBA before folding in 1954," his son said.
When the Chicago Zephyrs moved to Baltimore in 1963 and were renamed the Baltimore Bullets, Mr. Finkelstein became supervisor of the scoring table, or official scorer, at the Civic Center for all of their games.
He continued in this role after the team became the Washington Bullets, until stepping down in 1974, his son said.
"He was a lovable guy and a perfect gentleman. If he could do something for you, he did it. He was also a person who really enjoyed life," said Michael H. Dopkin, a friend of nearly 60 years who has homes in both Baltimore and Boca Raton.
"He made money and gave it back to charities and the community. He believed in that and taught his children to do the same," said Mr. Dopkin. "He also taught them that family was the most important thing. You may have an argument but it was to be forgotten. It was all about being family and together."
Mr. Finkelstein, who had also been a season ticket holder to the old Baltimore Colts, enjoyed powerboating, visiting the beach at Ocean City and dancing.
He liked listening to jazz and was a fan of "The Harley Show," a late-night radio show hosted by Harley Brinsfield, a jazz aficionado and restaurateur.
"After games at the Civic Center, he'd go up Park Avenue and wind through the city listening to 'The Harley Show,' and sometimes we'd end up at the Pimlico Hotel eating Chinese food at 10:30 p.m. I don't know how he did that with a couple of little kids," his son said.
He was a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation.
His wife died in 1998. A year later, he married the former Goody LaBorwit, who survives him.
Services were held April 27 at Sol Levinson & Bros. Funeral Home in Pikesville.
In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Finkelstein is survived by two other sons, Aaron E. Finkelstein and Scott D. Finkelstein, both of Owings Mills; a daughter, Karin Stratford of Richmond, Va.; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun