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Lawrence Heinze, salesman and real estate investor, dies

Lawrence Heinze was a salesman, real estate investor and co-owner of the Midtown Yacht Club.
Lawrence Heinze was a salesman, real estate investor and co-owner of the Midtown Yacht Club. (HANDOUT)

Lawrence Heinze, a Catonsville salesman and Charles Village real estate investor who co-owned the Midtown Yacht Club and walked around with a song on his lips, died of heart failure at his home in Leesburg, Va., on June 24. He was 76.

Lawrence Arthur Heinze was born Dec. 14, 1940, in Baltimore to Horace Heinze, a milkman, and Julia Bertazon, a homemaker. He was raised near Pimlico Race Course in Northwest Baltimore and attended City College High School and the University of Maryland, College Park, from which he graduated in 1964. After college, he served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

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Whether he was stopping by the Yacht Club for a martini, coaching a Towson Recreation Council baseball game, or cooking one of his famous Italian feasts with a pig's foot in the marinara sauce, Mr. Heinze did everything to the tune of an inner melody he just couldn't contain, his friends and family said.

"His doctor used to say you could always tell how Larry was doing by how he walked through the office," said his wife, Sheila Heinze, of Leesburg. "He was always whistling, humming, singing — he had an absolute joy for life and family."

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Mr. Heinze was a longtime employee of Burroughs Corp., a St. Louis-based business equipment manufacturer that later became Unisys. When Mrs. Heinze founded SM Consulting, which became one of Maryland's largest woman-owned businesses, he joined her and helped grow it to $80 million in revenue before they sold it and retired to Virginia in 2008, she said.

Mr. Heinze's overwhelming optimism and love of people guided his career in sales and management, as well as his real estate investments, which he maintained in his spare weeknights and weekends, according to his son Jeffrey Heinze, 49, an insurance broker in Towson.

"He was a big thinker and a very positive thinker," the younger Mr. Heinze said. "He believed people were capable of doing anything, and he espoused that attitude to me and others he interacted with throughout his life. He did not care for negative attitudes."

Mr. Heinze was a member of Kappa Alpha Order at Maryland, and stayed involved with the fraternity throughout his life, according to longtime friend and fraternity brother Tom McGee.

"The guy had no enemies," Mr. McGee said. "Everybody liked him. He wasn't a pushover, he stood his ground, but he had a diplomatic way of doing it. ... I could give you a list of 20 people that would badmouth me, but I can't tell you a single one who would badmouth him."

In the 1970s, Mr. Heinze coached recreational baseball and was selected to be the league's commissioner, family members said. Jeffrey Heinze recalled making trips with his father to do maintenance on his properties during their spare time.

"I was young, but I certainly remember days when I was cleaning trash out of a backyard or painting a room, doing that sort of thing," he said.

Those days would usually end with "cloak-and-dagger" sandwiches — corned beef, swiss cheese, Russian dressing and cole slaw — at the Homewood Deli in Charles Village, he said.

Mr. and Mrs. Heinze frequented the Conservatory at the top floor of the Peabody Court Hotel in Mount Vernon, where he struck up a friendship with a 27-year-old bartender named Nathan Beveridge. When the Midtown Yacht Club on Centre Street went up for sale in 1998, Mr. Heinze approached Mr. Beveridge with the idea of buying the bar. They split the cost, and Mr. Beveridge and his wife ran it day-to-day, with Mr. Heinze chiefly acting as an investor.

"It was a neat little coup, the takeover of the bar," Mr. Beveridge said. "I always tell people that Larry, my wife and I were the only people in history of partnerships that were better friends at the end of the venture than when it started."

Mr. Heinze loved co-owning the tavern, and he would come in every three months or so to order a martini — or just walk behind the bar and pour himself a beer. His only demands were menu items he liked to eat: a BLT with six slices of bacon and a decent cup of Maryland crab soup.

Mr. Beveridge said he came to regard Mr. Heinze as something of a second father figure. After reinvesting their earnings in an upstairs lounge called the Sky Club, they sold Midtown Yacht Club in 2006. The bar, which reopened as Midtown BBQ & Brew in 2011, has since been replaced by a contemporary American small plates restaurant called Flavor.

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"He was a great man, a confidant," said Mr. Beveridge, who now owns Muscle Inc., a sports nutrition store in Easton. "He was always a steady, true, smart, well-spoken man. ... We had fun together, enjoyed each other's company and enjoyed owning a bar together."

A celebration of life ceremony is planned for 11:30 a.m. July 11 at the Hunt Valley Country Club, 14101 Phoenix Road, Phoenix.

In lieu of flowers, contributions are being accepted to the Backpack Buddies Foundation of Loudoun, P.O. Box 582, Leesburg, VA 20178.

In addition to his wife and son, Mr. Heinze is survived by three daughters, Lauren Adams of New Jersey, and Samantha and Alexandra Heinze of Leesburg; his brother, David Heinze; four grandchildren; and many nieces, nephiews and great nieces. An earlier marriage to the former Judith Moore ended in divorce.

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