Leo G. "Skip" Winterling, 78, Highlandtown restaurant owner


Leo G. "Skip" Winterling, whose Highlandtown restaurant offered its faithful customers sour beef, homemade pie and horse racing tips, died Thursday of circulatory failure at Maryland General Hospital. He was 78.

The House of Winterling, still at 3200 Foster Ave., was a favorite East Baltimore gathering spot.

"You might see Jerry Hoffberger of National Beer there or [sports announcers] Chuck Thompson and Charlie Eckman having lunch on any day," said Leah Bark, Mr. Winterling's daughter, who worked with her father for many years.

The restaurant was made from two rowhouses. The dining room had gold-flecked wallpaper and a staircase that led to the family's living quarters.

Francie Haussner George, daughter of the founders of Haussner's Restaurant, said: "On Mondays, when we were closed but people would still come to our door, we would send them to Winterling's. Skip was a character plus some. He had a heart as big as the world."

Bernie Eckert, a longtime friend who sells insurance on Eastern Avenue, called Mr. Winterling "the complete host."

"If you didn't like Skip Winterling, you couldn't like anyone. Everyone blended together there -- the carpenter, the judge, the politician -- they were all at home at Winterling's," Mr. Eckert said.

Mr. Winterling worked alongside his mother, Mary Ann Winterling, who opened the neighborhood dining room in 1923 and produced many of the house specialties, including the apple crumb pie that, in 1972, The Sun's restaurant critic John Dorsey described as "the best I've had in a restaurant since I started." Mary Ann Winterling died in 1990, two years after the family stopped operating the business. In 1994, new owners reopened the restaurant as Winterling's.

"You could always tell where he stood with his mother. If she referred to Skip as her 'crown prince,' that meant he was in trouble. If she said, 'My poor Leo, he works so hard,' that meant he was in her good graces," Eckert recalled.

Mr. Winterling objected to a city law that prohibited alcohol from being served on Election Day. "It's prehistoric," he said in an interview in The Sun in 1976, the year the law was amended to allow liquor sales in establishments that served food. "It goes XTC back to the brickbat days when they enlisted voters from cemeteries."

Mr. Winterling had a lifelong fascination with horse racing. He owned three thoroughbred horses, Dreamy Dessert, Windsor Woods and Bewitching Fantasy -- a long shot that paid $183 on a $2 bet Dec. 6, 1985, after bolting out of the Laurel starting gate.

He was a past president of the Exchange Club of Highlandtown.

A Mass will be offered today at 10 a.m. at St. Anthony of Padua Roman Catholic Church, 4414 Frankford Ave., Gardenville.

Mr. Winterling is also survived by his wife, the former Elizabeth Elms; four daughters, Mary Ann Winterling of White Marsh, Victoria Winterling of Overlea, Kathleen Jordan of Overlea and Melissa Ann Tirona of Las Vegas; and three grandchildren.

Pub Date: 12/30/96

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