Mildred Attman, paper company co-founder

Mildred Attman, who was a co-founder with her husband of the Acme Paper & Supply Co. and later became a homemaker, died Thursday of heart failure at Sinai Hospital.

The longtime Pikesville resident was 88.

The daughter of a successful businessman and a homemaker, Mildred Cohen was born and raised in Essex, where her father owned a grocery store, bowling alley and the New Essex Theater. Her family lived above the theater.

"Mom reminisced wistfully about falling to sleep as she could hear the music from the golden age of cinema below her," a son, Gary L. Attman of Pikesville, said in a eulogy for his mother. "She always loved the movies and great stars of that era."

Growing up, Mrs. Attman and the rest of her family would travel by streetcar to Baltimore for kosher food and Jewish culture, family members said. And on one such trip, they visited Attman's Delicatessen on Lombard Street, which had been founded by Harry Attman in 1915.

Sixteen and wearing a new dress, she caught the eye of Mr. Attman's son, Edward "Eddie" Attman, who waited on them.

"'Mrs. Cohen, your daughter is certainly growing up,'" he said.

After graduating from Kenwood High School, Mrs. Attman earned an associate's degree in business from the University of Baltimore.

At the University of Baltimore, Mrs. Attman was reunited with her future husband, who also was a graduate of the university.

During World War II, Mr. Attman had asked that she write to him while he was away.

"Mom received more than one proposal of marriage, but she was waiting for someone special," her son said in his eulogy.

After Mr. Attman returned from the war, he told Mr. Cohen, her father, that he was going to call his daughter.

"Eddie Attman is calling tonight and you better be there when he calls," he told his daughter.

The couple were married in 1946, the same year they established the Acme Paper & Supply Co., which specialized in paper drinking cups, in downtown Baltimore.

Today, plastic products account for the majority of the products that the Savage-based company supplies to restaurants, hospitals, stadiums and the U.S. House of Representatives.

"She was at his side keeping the books and running the office for the fledgling operation," her son said.

After the first of her four sons was born, Mrs. Attman became a homemaker.

She also enjoyed cooking and entertaining family and friends as well as her sons' friends.

"Mom's cooking was incredible. She had a fairly small kitchen at first but the aromas and tastes she generated were amazing. Mandel bread, chicken soup, brisket steaks — she could do it all," her son said in his eulogy.

"We really loved broiled meat but our old gas broiler would constantly catch on fire leading to more than one visit by the fire department, until finally a fireman told her to douse the flames with baking soda," he said.

Mrs. Attman had been an avid Baltimore Colts fan.

Mrs. Attman never lost her philanthropic interest in the University of Baltimore, where family members said they endowed a scholarship in her memory.

Mrs. Attman had been an active member of the Suburban Club and the old Bonnie View Country Club, where she enjoyed playing golf.

She was a world traveler but enjoyed the family's annual summer vacation at Atlantic City, N.J.

"She was an inspiration to us in both our business and life," said another son, Ronald M. Attman of Pikesville, who is a vice president of Acme Paper & Supply Co. "We learned many lessons from her in how to deal with and understand people."

"She was the kindest person I have ever known. She practiced and preached it," Gary Attman said in his eulogy.

"Whether it was the guy who cut the grass, the household help, her closest friends or total strangers, she was always kind," he said. "She would constantly remind us to be humble and nice regardless of our achievements. This is a lesson we will remember."

Mrs. Attman was a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation for more than 50 years, and a member of Hadassah.

In his eulogy, Mr. Attman said it was "both fitting and ironic" that his mother had died of a "worn-out heart."

"She gave it away her whole life — to her friends, family and her beloved husband of 66 years and never demanded anything in return."

Services were held Friday at Sol Levinson and Bros. Funeral Home, with interment in Arlington Cemetery.

In addition to her husband and two sons, Mrs. Attman is survived by two other sons, David T. Attman and Steven W. Attman, both of Pikesville; nine grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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