Gerald S. Wise, Sears manager, dies


Gerald S. Wise, a retired general manager of Baltimore-area Sears, Roebuck & Co. stores who was active in civic affairs, died Sunday at the Manor Care Ruxton Nursing and Rehabilitation Center after a long illness.

A memorial service for Mr. Wise, who was 87 and lived in the Forty-Three Hundred North Charles Apartments, will be held at 11 a.m. April 6 at the Second Presbyterian Church, St. Paul Street and Stratford Road.

He retired in 1962 after coming to Baltimore to open the first Sears retail store here at North Avenue and Harford Road. He opened two more department stores in the area before his retirement.

Mr. Wise was a former president of the old Association of Commerce and was president of the Retail Merchants Association twice in the 1940s.

During World War II, he served in the Navy Supply Corps, reaching the rank of commander.

A Republican, he was named chairman of a commission to study the Baltimore Transit Co. in 1951 by Gov. Theodore R. McKeldin. Mr. Wise was also a member from 1949 to 1961 of the Baltimore Board of Recreation and Parks and later was a member of the city Planning Commission.

He had been president of the Baltimore YMCA, co-chairman of the Baltimore Conference of Christians and Jews, and a trustee of the Second Presbyterian Church.

In the mid-1950s, he worked on the Second Hoover Commission and was director of its task force on surplus property. He was a trustee of the Commission on Governmental Efficiency and Economy.

He was a former president of the Guilford Association, the Wine and Food Society, and what is now the Baltimore Opera Company.

After his retirement, he volunteered in the International Executive Service Corps and worked in Iran and South America as a business adviser. Mr. Wise led tours of Japan and the Mediterranean for the Maryland Port Authority, seeking more business for the port.

A native of Cedar Falls, Iowa, he attended Iowa State Teachers College there.

He began working for Sears in its Chicago mail order center in 1926 and shortly was transferred to its newly opened retail store there.

In 1931 he began heading district offices, managing retail stores in the South, then in central Pennsylvania and, from 1936 until 1938, in Syracuse, N.Y.

A golfer who belonged to the Baltimore Country Club, he liked gardening, genealogy and American history.

He is survived by his wife of 65 years, the former Louise Berry; a son, Charles P. Wise of Baltimore; two daughters, Mary Louise Franz and Elizabeth T. Wise, both of Baltimore; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

The family suggested contributions to the Second Presbyterian Church.

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