Hans Eric Stein, founder and former owner of Baltimore Textile Co., died Monday of Alzheimer's disease at Stella Maris Hospice. He was 86 and lived in Lutherville.
Born and raised in Munich, Germany, he was the son of a shoe manufacturer. Stein earned a doctorate in economics with a minor in chemistry from Institute Mohlerich in Munich.
He learned to ski as a youth, and it became a passion he gave up only in his 70s. A ski instructor for much of his life, he began teaching the sport during the 1930s at Berwang and Erwald, Austria, and at Garmish-Partenkirchen, Austria. For a year, he taught the Alpine troops of the Austrian army.
"We skied with 150 pounds of equipment strapped to our backs," he told The Evening Sun in a 1979 interview. "To get up hills easily, we attached fur skins to the bottom of our skis to provide friction."
"It was his knowledge of chemistry that led him to discover that the German army was storing aviation gasoline in Alpine salt mines," said his wife of 16 years, the former Amalia Rodrigues. "And this was a clear indication that Germany was preparing for war, in addition to being in violation of the Versailles Treaty."
Mr. Stein fled his native Germany in 1939 because of the rise of the Nazis, and immigrated to Baltimore. He learned to speak English while working as a salesman in Howard Street shoe stores.
During World War II, he served with Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla 17 on the Chesapeake Bay.
In 1946, Mr. Stein founded Baltimore Textile Co. in the 1800 block of N. Calvert St., which was a wholesale distributor of textiles catering to the marine and automobile industries. He sold the business in the early 1980s and retired.
It was while he was a member of the Mountain Club of Maryland that Mr. Stein introduced several members to skiing. His teaching efforts at New Germany State Park in Western Maryland eventually led to his being one of the founders of the Baltimore Ski Club in 1944.
A qualified amateur ski instructor, Mr. Stein managed for years to spend about four weeks each winter skiing in Colorado, California, Idaho and Utah. He remained a competitive racer on the recreational circuit and in 1973 won an Aspen Gold medal for finishing in the top three at Ajax Mountain.
His marriage to the former Carol Frank ended in divorce. He was married to Bette Stein, who died in 1982. He then married Ms. Rodriques the next year.
A prayer service will be held at 11 a.m. today at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, 5200 N. Charles St.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Stein is survived by a son, Eric M. Stein of Miami; five daughters, Susan Merrill of Annapolis, Catherine "Kitty" Boyan of Marriottsville, Nancy Workley of California, Linda Browne of Atlanta and Bette Lee Seibel of Florida; and five grandchildren.
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