Louie S. Door, 88, owned New Sea Girt Inn in Pasadena


Louie S. Door, who owned the New Sea Girt Inn in Pasadena for more than 30 years, died Sunday of respiratory failure at University of Maryland Medical Center. He was 88.

He was known as "Joe Louie," a name given him by Charley Eckman, the late broadcaster who in radio ads immortalized one of the restaurant's house specialties, shrimp toast.

"Everyone knew him by that name, and all of his customers called him that. We even called him that at home," said a stepson, Wesley A. Wong of New York City.

Mr. Door was credited with bringing one of the first Chinese restaurants to Anne Arundel County in 1950 when he opened a restaurant in Riviera Beach and later moved it to Fort Smallwood Road in Pasadena.

In 1982, he closed the business, also known for its lobster Cantonese (he flew in lobsters from Maine daily), after his health began to decline.

A distinguishing feature of the restaurant was a pagoda phone booth that stood in front of the building and was a landmark for customers.

It was not uncommon for the restaurant, which employed 65, to serve 900 dinners on a weekend Saturday or Sunday.

It was a haven for North County politicians, Annapolis legislators and the ordinary and unheralded.

"It was like going into someone's home," said Joseph Alton, former Anne Arundel county executive. "Louie was such a genuine person and a very good friend of mine. I can tell you that he was well-liked and that I spent many happy evenings there eating and drinking."

Mr. Door emigrated to this country in 1924 from Toysun near Canton in China and worked as a dishwasher in his uncle's restaurant in Idaho.

"He didn't know English and taught himself to read and write," said his wife, the former Catherine Goon, whom he married in 1970.

"When he opened his first Sea Girt restaurant in Riviera Beach, he worked 18-hour days, often making not more than $5 a day and sleeping on a cot in a small room above the restaurant. He said he would often cry himself to sleep because he was so tired and worried," she said.

Mr. Door later worked in restaurants in Chicago and New York before enlisting in the Army in 1943 as a cook. He served in Europe with the 274th Infantry and was discharged in 1945 as a technician fourth grade. His decorations included the Distinguished Unit Badge, Good Conduct Medal and the European-Middle Eastern Service Medal.

He then moved to Baltimore and worked as a cook in the old Jimmy Wu's New China Inn, once a Charles Street landmark. He left there and opened the restaurant in Riviera Beach.

Mr. Door worked long days and only took four days of vacation a year, which he spent either painting or redecorating the restaurant, his wife said.

"He loved his restaurant, because he loved people. No job was beneath him. If a porter didn't show up for work, he'd mop the floor," she said.

Mr. Door was a member of the Optimists Club and the Restaurant Association of Maryland.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at Mitchell-Wiedefeld Home, 6500 York Road, Rodgers Forge.

Other survivors include another stepson, Sherwood A. Wong of Timonium; and three grandchildren.

Giovannina Gemignani, Sears worker

Giovannina Catrina Bruno Gemignani, a retired Sears & Roebuck & Co. employee, died Monday of cancer at Stella Maris Hospice. She was 82 and had lived in Homeland for the last several years.

Known as Jennie, the former Giovannina Buono began working in 1958 as a marker in Sears' Mondawmin store and retired in 1981 from the receiving department of the Glen Burnie store.

The Pittsburgh native left school in the eighth grade after the death of her father to help her mother operate a lunchroom.

In 1925, she married Gino J. Gemignani Sr. and the couple moved first to Woodlawn then Pimlico in Northwest Baltimore and then Crownsville. Mr. Gemignani died in 1980.

Mrs. Gemignani had been a member of St. Ambrose and Our Lady of the Fields Roman Catholic churches, and recently the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. today in the chapel of Villa Assumpta, the motherhouse of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, 6401 N. Charles St.

She is survived by two sons, Gino J. Gemignani of Homeland, and Hugo G. Gemignani of Stevensville; two sisters, Mary Callahan of Baltimore and Annie Harlin of Prattsville, Ala.; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.

Cecelia A. Johnson, 85, licensed practical nurse

Cecelia A. Johnson, a retired licensed practical nurse, died Saturday at St. Agnes Hospital after a heart attack. She was 85 and lived in West Baltimore.

Mrs. Johnson was a private duty nurse for many years and retired in the late 1970s.

The former Cecelia A. Barton was a native of Pleasant View in Frederick County and came to Baltimore after her marriage in 1937 to Paul A. Johnson Sr. He died in 1972.

A Mass of Christian burial for Mrs. Johnson is to be offered at 10 a.m. today at the Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 3121 Walbrook Ave.

Survivors include two sons, Paul A. Johnson Jr. and Ellwood G. Johnson, and a daughter, Paulette Johnson-Wickham, all of Baltimore; a sister, Emma Proctor of Philadelphia; six grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren.

Lelia Brown Robinson, Managed dry cleaners

Lelia Brown Robinson, retired manager of a West Baltimore dry cleaners and active churchwoman, died Sunday of cancer at the Mariner Healthcare of Baltimore nursing home. She was 93 and had lived in the 800 block of Harlem Ave. for over 60 years.

Mrs. Robinson retired in 1965 from the old Brilliant Cleaners on Fulton Avenue where she had been manager for 20 years. Earlier, she had worked during the 1930s and 1940s as a stock clerk at Hutzler's Howard Street department store.

Known as "Lovey," the former Lelia Briggs was born and raised in South Baltimore and was educated in city schools.

She was a lifelong member of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, where she belonged to several clubs and served on many boards.

In 1925, she married Bernard C. Brown, who died in 1953. In 1962, she married John Robinson, who died in 1972.

Services for Mrs. Robinson will be held at 10:30 a.m. today at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, 20 W. Montgomery St.

She is survived by two sons, Ernest E. Briggs and Bernard L. Brown, and a daughter, Shanita Robinson, all of Baltimore; nine grandchildren; 16 great-grandchildren; several great-great-grandchildren; and special friend, Minnie Wilson of Baltimore.

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