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Family floral shop marking 75 years


The Stewart N. Dutterer Flower Shop Inc. has been "saying it with flowers" for nearly 75 years.

The shop -- now operated by Mr. Dutterer's daughter, Eileen Dutterer Gist -- opened in the spring of 1919, when her father, Stewart N. Dutterer Sr., returned from serving in the military. The 75th anniversary open house on Nov. 16 began a kickoff for a yearlong celebration.

"He decided that was what he'd like to do," said Ms. Gist, 56. "He took great pride in the flowers he grew and decided that Westminster needed another flower shop."

With flowers from his gardens and those of his in-laws, Mr. Dutterer began selling bouquets from his home at 110 Pennsylvania Ave. in Westminster. By the end of the year, the family-owned business was shipping flowers to Baltimore.

"The flower shop has always been a part of my life," said Ms. Gist, noting that the year she was born, 1937, the Dutterers moved their family and their shop two doors up the street, to 114 Pennsylvania Ave. The shop is there today.

"When it came time to learn how to drive, I learned to drive the truck when most girls were learning to drive their father's car," Ms. Gist said. "My parents were hard workers and expected us to work with them. I started working in a small way, which grew into a large way."

Her responsibilities increased when her mother, Edna Ruthrauff Dutterer, died in 1965. Ms. Gist took over the shop when her

father died in 1975. Ms. Gist's brother, Nevin, had taken a job with Carroll County Sheltered Workshop in 1971. Her other brother, Paul, is still with the shop on the delivery end.

"It was not only expected of me as one of the children, but I love the business," Ms. Gist said. "The business has been very good to our family through the years. It has been a secure place to work and beautiful, surrounded with flowers."

Ms. Gist said the most enjoyable factors in her job include teaching floral design and participating in design teams that fashioned arrangements for presidential inaugurations, Tournament of Roses parades and the Statue of Liberty celebration.

She teaches several seminars a year through Floral Transworld Delivery and the Society of American Florists, as well as instructing the designers in her shop.

Ms. Gist's own floral instruction began at the American Floral Art School in Chicago. She graduated in 1955 and, since then, has taken classes throughout the country and in Europe.

"In Europe, they are very serious about the business," she said. "To be certified, you have to serve so many hours as an apprentice. I wish we could have the same quality of design in the United States."

Her extensive involvement with FTD has brought invitations for Ms. Gist and her staff to work on the design teams for national events. She is a national director and works on the company's marketing committee, choosing advertisements seen nationwide.

"It's been exciting to meet some of the stars and to do some of the things you couldn't do in Westminster," she said. "A party for 3,000 people is unheard of around here."

Weddings have given Ms. Gist some of her favorite memories, she said. "We were placing flowers on the fence posts," she said, recalling one wedding preparation. "When we got to number eight, we looked back and realized the horses had eaten the flowers off the first four."

Providing flowers for two or three generations of brides has also pleased Ms. Gist.

"That has been very exciting for us," she said. "When you've had a relationship with people for many years, you know their likes and dislikes. When a bride receives her bouquet and the tears start to flow, you know you have touched her in a lasting way."

But custom funeral flower arrangements give her the most satisfaction, Ms. Gist said. "Funeral design is a very important gift from the living to their loved one," she said. "That design should say in flowers what they feel in their hearts."

Ms. Gist said she enjoys tailoring a funeral design to the deceased, including something rustic for a hunter or craft

materials for a woman who loved needlework.

"When you go into a funeral home, there needs to be a diversion," she said. "Flowers give warmth. They are God's gift to us and give us a language of their own."

An active member of Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster, Ms. Gist's love of church has permeated her work as well.

For 12 years, from 1970 to 1982, her shop designed "floral tributes" for Grace on alternate years during the fifth Sunday of Lent to illustrate various church tenets.

"I don't think any person who is religious can walk into work and leave it on the street," she said. "It's the way we live our life, the way we treat other people."

Her staff ranges from the core group of 15 to about 40 before big floral holidays like Mother's Day, the biggest one-day holiday in a florist's calendar, Ms. Gist said. Valentine's Day runs a close second and Christmas is the largest holiday of all, running from middle of November to after New Year's, she said.

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