Fletcher G. Mormann, a cabinetmaker who restored and upholstered furniture for nearly four decades, died Monday of respiratory complications at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation and Extended Care Center. The Westminster resident was 90.
He was born in a rented house across the street from 5247 Reisterstown Road, where his father, also a cabinetmaker, was building his business and home for the family. They moved into the 19-room building in 1912.
After graduating from a Forest Park High School vocational program, Mr. Mormann apprenticed with his father and eventually took over the family business, Fred. A. Mormann & Son Antiques.
"Watching my father work made for a magical childhood," said his daughter, Lynne Pines Rittenberg of Annapolis. "It was the kind of shop where [film star] Dorothy Lamour would walk in. My father was an expert restorer whose work was in many homes and some museums throughout Maryland and Washington. He took pride in his craftsmanship."
Family friends recalled Mr. Mormann's friendly manner when dealing with children in his Northwest Baltimore neighborhood.
"He was a kind man who knew we kept kosher," said Fran Levin Bowman, who often played with his children. "He would get kosher food for me, cook it in a separate utensil and serve it on a separate plate. He wanted to make sure I would be a welcome guest. He was a fun, flexible man. He encouraged me to play in his antique shop. I remember getting lost in a big chest."
Family members said Mr. Mormann had a barn at the back of his property where he stored wood used in furniture restoration. They said he stockpiled sections of mahogany, a wood he liked and often praised. And while customers from the Worthington and Greenspring valleys, as well as Middle Atlantic States, brought in family pieces for repair and refinishing, Mr. Mormann also did other jobs.
"I remember when someone brought in his Jaguar car for my father to fix the wooden ribs on the convertible top," his daughter said.
The family said his shop had a friendly, casual feel. The front door was unlocked and the only security system was an old brass bell that sounded when it opened. When a customer called the business number, Liberty 4922, it would ring upstairs and whoever answered would tap on the radiator pipes as a signal for Mr. Mormann in the shop below.
Mr. Mormann worked alongside his wife of 56 years, the former Mary Ellen Towler, who did gold leafing on picture frames, and caning and chair rushing.
Mr. Mormann closed his business in 1970 and worked briefly for the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. as an equipment mechanic.
He attended annual reunions of his Army unit from World War II, in which he attained the rank of sergeant while serving in Germany, France and Belgium. He operated a searchlight to train on enemy aircraft. He was a member of the Westminster posts of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.
Mr. Mormann was a longtime member of Arlington Methodist Church, where he was secretary of the Methodist Men and taught in the Sunday school.
Services were held Wednesday.
In addition to his wife and daughter, survivors include a son, Stephen A. Mormann of Columbia; a sister, Katie Graf of Catonsville; and two grandsons.