Melvin H. Widerman, a retired bank executive director and department store proprietor who was noted for helping the less fortunate, died Saturday after a heart attack at his home in Essex. He was 87.
Mr. Widerman, who held his first job at age 13, worked his way from shipping order clerk to bank executive during his 55-year career.
By the time he retired in 1975, Mr. Widerman had topped off 11 years at the Commercial & Farmers Bank in Ellicott City by rising to chief executive director.
Before he worked at the bank, Mr. Widerman spent 38 years at the old Rosenthal's Department Store at Saratoga and Eutaw streets.
He started as a junior clerk-cashier in 1926 and held numerous management positions, including general manager. After 30 years, he led a group of investors who bought the then-century-old business.
During his career, he was also involved in organizing credit unions, beginning with the employees' credit union at Rosenthal's. He was president of the Maryland Credit Union League and, during the mid-1950s, was president of the Credit Union National Association.
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Mr. Widerman was a director of the Committee for Downtown and inspired a block-by-block beautification campaign for the downtown business area.
"He was a great guy; he did his share civically," said stockbroker and Sun columnist Julius Westheimer, who worked with Mr. Widerman on the "Beautify Baltimore" campaign.
In retirement, Mr. Widerman was managing director of Lutheran Housing Services in Baltimore, which helps provide resources and shelter to the destitute. Mr. Widerman spent much of his time providing referrals to people in search of help.
"He was a fine gentleman," said Marvin G. "Pete" Burris, a friend of 20 years.
"He was still working with that Lutheran Church thing at least a month ago. He was still taking phone calls."
Mr. Widerman made time in his busy schedule for coin collecting, Mr. Burris said.In 1972 he was president of the Baltimore Coin Club.
In recent years, Mr. Widerman had assisted widows of coin club members by appraising and helping sell collections they had inherited, Mr. Burris said.
Born in Baltimore, Mr. Widerman attended City College and night school classes. In 1927, he married Gertrude Rokel, who died in June 1994.
Services for Mr. Widerman will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Leonard J. Ruck Funeral Home, 5305 Harford Road.
Mr. Widerman is survived by a daughter, Joyce R. Magliolo, and a son-in-law, Dr. Albert M. Magliolo, of Houston; a brother, Elsworth Widerman of Cincinnati; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.