Bernice “Bunny” Hutzler Stein — a matriarch of the storied Baltimore department store owners, a philanthropist to hospitals and health organizations and socialite – died of complications from old age at Roland Park Place Dec. 28, the day after her 105th birthday.
For many years she lived at Oakwood in Pikesville. The property adjoined the Hutzler family compound, Pomona.
Born in 1917 New York City and raised on Park Avenue, she was the daughter of Adolph Levy, an entrepreneur active in real estate and clothing manufacturing, and Goldie Kaplan, an artist.
She came to Baltimore to attend Goucher College and while there met her future husband, Albert D. Hutzler Jr., then a Johns Hopkins University student who went on to become president of the Hutzler Brothers Co. His ancestors founded the retail firm in 1858.
“They met at a dance when there was plenty of social interaction between Goucher and Hopkins,” said her son, James L. Hutzler.
They married in 1937 at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. She wore an ivory satin princess-style gown and carried a bouquet of white orchids and lilies of the valley, according to The Sun’s account of the ceremony.
Her daughter, Elizabeth “Betty” Friedman, said, “People loved my mother. She was attractive and aristocratic. My perception was she seemed important and you didn’t just run up and hug her. She was an intuitive person who was perceptive about people.”
Mrs. Hutzler became active in medical philanthropic circles. She was a board member of the previous Hospital for the Women of Maryland in Bolton Hill and was an active part of its merger into a new organization, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
She was also the Metropolitan Baltimore Association for Mental Health secretary.
She also worked with her husband at what was then called the Associated Jewish Charities and Welfare Fund.
Her son, Albert, recalled that his mother supported McDonogh School and ran its annual bazaar.
During World War II she was a volunteer air traffic controller at the old Curtiss-Wright Airport on Smith Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.
In 1975, she was honored for her work as a founding member of the Women’s Council of the United Fund of Central Maryland. She received the Clementine Peterson Award for “her imagination, judgment, insight and high standards she sets for herself and the groups with which she serves,” according to a Baltimore Sun article.
While she never worked for the family’s department store, she took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremonies that accompanied the company’s expansions.
“Hutzler’s as a store was like one big family,” said her daughter, Betty. “My mother was very much in the middle of it all.”
Her son, Albert D. Hutzler III said, “She was a dignified lady who brought a lot to Baltimore. She and my father created an elegant representation of Hutzler’s.”
She was present when the Hutzler Brothers Co. unveiled the upper floors of its Howard Street flagship store in 1941. She often dined at the Colonial Tea Room on the sixth floor.
She was also a part of the opening celebrations when the Towson, Eastpoint and Westview suburban stores opened during the ‘50s.
“My mother was a superior hostess,” said her daughter, Betty. “We never had the same food twice. She had a cook to make just what she wanted. One night it might be terrapin soup and the next night sweetbreads. As children, we had to try them.”
“If she had [couturière] Pauline Trigere coming in from Paris, she would have at a gathering the kind of people Pauline Trigere would want to know,” her daughter said.
Betty recalled another dinner soiree.
“My roommate in college and her husband, a young Hopkins medical student, were invited by my mother to dinner,” said her daughter. “She also invited Dr. Richard TeLinde [a renowned Hopkins gynecologist]. I thought the medical student’s jaw would drop off.”
The Morning Sun
After Mr. Hutzler’s 1985 death, she married Dr. Irvin Stein, an orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the University of Pennsylvania.
With her husband, she attended the Marlboro Music Festival where they greeted his patients, including Philadelphia Orchestra conductor Eugene Ormandy and pianist Rudolf Serkin.
She attended the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and concerts of the Philadelphia Orchestra at The Lyric. She sat in the family box with her late husband’s mother, Gretchen Hochschild Hutzler, and her sister, Florence Hochschild Austrian.
“She had beautiful calligraphy and a unique style of print handwriting,” said her son, James Hutzler. “She was also quite a nice artist and doodler. She had a knack for it.”
Mrs. Stein lived at Roland Park Place for 23 years.
Survivors include a daughter, Betty Friedman of Simsbury, Connecticut; two sons, Albert D. Hutzler III of Florida and James L. Hutzler of Alexandria, Virginia; five grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
A private service will be held.