Donald Stollenmaier, 68, designer of city department store windows

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Donald G. Stollenmaier, a retired window designer whose blue-and-white Madonna at Christmas was a fixture in area department stores, died of complications from a fall Monday at Hernando-Pasco Hospice in New Port Richey, Fla. He was 68 and had lived in New Port Richey since 1983.

Mr. Stollenmaier was born and raised in Baltimore and graduated from City College in 1953.

After briefly serving in the Air Force, he began his career as a window designer in the 1950s at the Julius Gutman and Co. store in downtown Baltimore.

"He was a very talented and pleasant guy. He was always up on style and his windows reflected that," said Merrill T. Lee, a former salesman with Baltimore Display Co.

Mr. Stollenmaier quit to work for the Hecht Co. in the 1960s and designed windows at the store in the Edmondson Village Shopping Center. It was there that he created his blue-and-white Madonna.

"It was enjoyed by all those who passed by for years on Baltimore National Pike. That was his creation. It was a local landmark," said longtime friend Howard Bevard of Catonsville.

In the 1970s, he rejoined what had become Brager-Gutman's as display and human resources manager, and his Madonna reappeared in the store's window at the corner of Park Avenue and Lexington Street.

Mr. Stollenmaier, who had been living in Catonsville, left Brager-Gutman's in 1983 to work in Clearwater, Fla., for Jacobson's, a now-defunct Michigan-based department store chain. He retired in 2001.

Mr. Stollenmaier's enjoyment of the Christmas season began as a child in his family's homes on Catherine Street and later Frederick Avenue.

"It was his favorite time of the year. He started hanging his outside lights the day after Thanksgiving. And he never got tired of decorating Christmas trees -- which he had in every room -- including the bathroom," said a niece, Carla Snider of Shrewsbury, Pa.

Mr. Stollenmaier carefully decorated each room with a Christmas tree and decorations featuring a different theme. One room was modeled after the Christmas garden of his childhood.

"His father and older brother spent hours building a Christmas garden that had a train and hand-built houses," said sister-in-law Eleanor Stollenmaier of Catonsville.

"He was always very systematic and organized. In one room, he had a Christmas garden, Lionel train and tree decorated with old glass ornaments from when he was a boy. The main tree in his living room was always done to a theme," Mr. Bevard said.

It wasn't uncommon for Mr. Stollenmaier to carefully arrange 300 poinsettias in his dining room.

"Being in that profession, only Donald could achieve a certain look," Mr. Bevard observed.

Mr. Stollenmaier also entertained at open houses that began in December and ended in January.

"He was an outgoing, fastidious person who wanted things done just right," Mr. Bevard said. "When he moved from Baltimore, Christmas was never the same without Donald."

Plans for a memorial service in Baltimore were incomplete yesterday.

Survivors include his brother, George A. Stollenmaier Jr. of Catonsville; a sister, Joan S. Snider of Shrewsbury, Pa.; a nephew; and two other nieces.

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