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Charles E. Winebrenner, baked goods distributor active in the Masons, dies

Charles Edward Winebrenner Jr. sold Pepperidge Farm and Little Debbie products and held leadership positions in the Masonic Order.
Charles Edward Winebrenner Jr. sold Pepperidge Farm and Little Debbie products and held leadership positions in the Masonic Order. (Courtesy of Chuck Winebrenner)

Charles Edward Winebrenner Jr., a retired baked goods distributor who held leadership positions in the Masonic Order, died Friday of complications of a fall. He was 91 and resided at the Maryland Masonic Home in Cockeysville.

Born in Baltimore and raised on Abbotston Street, he was the son of Charles E. Winebrenner, an Arnold bread distributor, and his wife, Amelia. He was a 1946 graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. He played football and was on the Poly team that defeated City College before an announced 25,715 in its annual contest with its rival, City College.

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He then enlisted in the Marine Corps and was promoted to sergeant. He was stationed at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, N.C., and at the Naval Academy.

After leaving the Marines, Mr. Winebrenner received an associate’s degree from Baltimore Junior College, where he also played football.

In 1954 he married the former Dorothy Ruzicka, who worked at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. building aircraft. They met at an East Baltimore restaurant and tavern, Jay Bittner’s.

“He was with a bunch of friends and so was she,” said his son, Chuck Winebrenner of Annapolis. “In order to get her attention, he started to clown around and imitate Jackie Gleason and his famous line, ‘And away we go,’ which might have led to, ‘So where are you going?’ by my mom.”

Mr. Winebrenner became a door-to-door salesman and later a sales leader for Foley & Gaylor, a firm that sold Thomas’ English muffins and Pepperidge Farm baked goods. In the early morning he drove to its Northeast Washington warehouse near Bladensburg Road.

“He was jovial and cultivated a good mood— a typical salesman with a charming personality. He would smile at the ladies and they would buy everything they had. He was a really super salesman,’ said Dr. Hans R. Wilhelmsen, a friend who lives in Timonium. “He drove a blue Cadillac and he liked that car.”

Said his son, Chuck Winebrenner: “Drawing from experience in the Marines, my father could motivate people. He was good at understanding what motivated people and knowing what interests them. He was a positive person, no matter what the setback, and was always smiling. He had a drive about him. He had that knack and pushed you to do a good job.”

He later joined the McKee Baking Co. and was a distributor of Little Debbie and other snack cakes.

He retired nearly 30 years ago and devoted more of his time to his work with the Masons.

Mr. Winebrenner was a member of the Grand Lodge of Maryland — also known as Bonnie Blink — for 70 years. Within the Masons, he achieved the 33rd degree status and he belonged to the Scottish Rite, Boumi Temple, Hamilton Shrine Club, Knights of Mecca and Legion of Honor. He also held the title of worshipful master of the Washington Lodge No. 3.

On the first Saturday in October he displayed his maroon 1974 Lincoln Continental Mark IV on the grounds of Bonnie Blink in Cockeysville for an annual Masonic meeting and car show.

“He was a jolly man who always had a smile on his face,” said Fred Hobine, a retired CSX senior derailment investigator who lives in Hamilton. “He organized a small group — six or eight of us — and we had a Friday lunch at Pappas. We mostly got crab cakes. He didn’t speak too much about his time in the Marines, but everybody knew he was a Marine. He never bragged about it. If fact, he never bragged about anything.”

Friends said Mr. Winebrenner cultivated a circle of friends and would do the buying at a BJ’s Warehouse for a Thursday lunch at which his Masonic buddies would gather for the Scottish Rite Cheer Club.

“He ran the food service for years,” said Dr. Wilhelmsen. “He had the kitchen at the Scottish Rite Temple. He did the procurement and directed the cooking— and he did a fabulous job. His $5 lunch included soup, a hot main course and dessert. He was totally in charge.”

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“He was outgoing and congenial, and he could make friends easily,” said a cousin, Tom Winebrenner, who is also a Mason. He liked to help people and see them happy. He was known for his lunches of roast beef, hot dogs and meat loaf and sour beef once in a while.”

Ted Barkley, a Parkton resident, said: “Charles was never critical of anybody. He was a willing helper and was dedicated to his friends. he had a lot of friends, too.”

After living on Texas Avenue in Parkville, he moved to the Maryland Masonic Home in Cockeysville. He recently received his 70-year achievement award from the Grand Lodge of Maryland.

He remained an ardent Colts, Ravens and Orioles fan.

A nephew, John Ruzicka of Bel Air, said: “He was proud of his family. He was a great father and grandfather. He never took the easy way out of a situation. It was always the right way. He was a coach to me and taught me much about life.”

Funeral services will be at 10:30 a.m. Friday at St. John’s Lutheran Church at 8808 Harford Road in Parkville.

In addition to his son, survivors include a grandson. His wife of 31 years, Dorothy Ruzicka, died in 1985. His companion, also of 31 years, Doris Streib, died in 2016.

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