Benjamin J. Fishman, a retired wholesaler and founder of an international organization of stamp collectors, died Wednesday of cancer at his home in Mount Washington.
Mr. Fishman, 83, retired in 1973 as the owner of Benjamin J. Fishman & Co. Inc., which sold bedroom, bathroom and dining room linens and similar goods.
He had started in the business in 1927 as a bookkeeper for Abraham Baumblatt and bought the company from Mr. Baumblatt's estate in 1944.
During World War II, he also worked as an inspector at the American Hammered Piston Ring Division of the Koppers Co.
In 1978, he founded the Israel Plate Block Society and was president of the group and co-editor of its journal at his death. He sold his collection of American plate blocks and first-day covers to buy his first home.
David Lebson, treasurer of the organization of collectors of blocks of stamps containing the plate number and co-editor of the journal, described Mr. Fishman as a "helpful, considerate and gentle man who was dedicated to the society."
"He was always willing to share his knowledge or his services," said Mr. Lebson.
He also marveled at Mr. Fishman's memory, explaining that he would not take a list of coveted stamps to a show, like most collectors. "He would carry it in his head," Mr. Lebson said.
Mr. Fishman was also a founder, in 1945, of the League Chapter of the Labor Zionist Organization of America and was its first president.
Mr. Fishman was born in Mlynov, Russia, in 1910. He and his mother came to Baltimore in 1921 to join his father, who came here in 1912.
He graduated from the Baltimore Hebrew High School in 1926 and two years later from the Baltimore Hebrew College and Teachers Training School, now the Baltimore Hebrew University.
In 1933, he graduated from the Baltimore City College Evening School.
He was a life member of the Society of Israel Philatelists, a former president of its Baltimore chapter and a member of the American Philatelic Society and the Baltimore Philatelic Society.
He was also a member of the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland and the Beth Am Congregation. For 30 years, he was a member of the Summit Country Club.
Services were set for 11 a.m. today at Sol Levinson & Bros. Home, 6010 Reisterstown Road, Baltimore.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, the former Doris Vera Gruber; two daughters, Linda F. Lapides and Nancy F. Bloom, both of Baltimore; and a grandson.
The family suggested memorial contributions to the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland.