Benjamin Gumnit Owned grocery store


Services for Benjamin Gumnit, who operated a grocery store in East Baltimore for 35 years, will be held at noon today at Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home, 6010 Reisterstown Road.

Mr. Gumnit, 85, died Friday at Baltimore County General Hospital.

He had Alzheimer's disease and had lived for the past 1 1/2 years at the Milford Manor Nursing Home.

Born in eastern Europe near the border of Russia and Poland, Mr. Gumnit was 5 years old when he came to the United States with his mother and four sisters.

They were joining his father and an older brother, who were already living in Baltimore.

Mr. Gumnit -- his name was Gumnitzky then -- grew up in East Baltimore. He left school as a youth to begin working and eventually became an upholster.

"He took a lot of pride in the fact that he did piecework," remembered a son, Stanley S. Gumnit of Baltimore. "You got paid for what you produced. He took pride in the quality and the quantity, saved a lot of money."

Although the United States was mired in the Depression, Mr. Gumnit used his money to open a small grocery store at the corner of Ashland Avenue and Durham Street, across from the city's old Northeastern District police station.

He was at his store seven days a week -- a half day on weekends and from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"There was no welfare system at the time, and many people who were having financial problems -- black and white -- would come to the police station for help," the son said, telling how the lawmen would help the needy buy groceries at the store, at prices subsidized by his father.

Mr. Gumnit sold the store in 1968 after it was looted on the last day of the rioting that followed the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

After retirement, Mr. Gumnit became active at Shaarei Zion Congregation.

Mr. Gumnit's wife, the former Reba Becker, died about 20 years ago.

Surviving, in addition to the son, are a daughter, Charlotte Shapiro of Silver Spring; three sisters, Ida Perlberg and Sylvia and Bertha Gumnitzky, all of Baltimore; and five grandchildren and a great-grandson.

The family suggested that memorial donations could be made to the Alzheimer's Association of Central Maryland, 540 E. Belvedere Ave., Baltimore 21212, or to the American Cancer Society.


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