Lawrence ‘Larry’ Kloze, antique shop owner and master gardener who helped others grow their food, dies

Lawrence Martin “Larry” Kloze, a master gardener and former antique shop owner who helped others grow their own food, died of congestive heart failure Sunday at Sinai Hospital. The Mount Washington resident was 83.

Born in Baltimore and raised in Ashburton, he was the son of Alexander Kloze, an attorney who owned Charlie’s Radio Service Company, and Rose Landay, a homemaker.

Lawrence Martin “Larry” Kloze once described himself as: “I’m an escapee from a Barry Levinson movie.”

A 1958 Baltimore City College graduate, Mr. Kloze went on to earn a degree at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Although he did not practice law, he was a graduate of what is now the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law.


In a 2006 Sun profile, he described himself as “an escapee from a Barry Levinson movie.” The story goes on to note that “for a while, the center of the universe [for Kloze] was Mandel’s delicatessen across from the famed Hilltop Diner on Reisterstown Road.”

He married Vicki Isenstein, who had been a 1960s Volunteers in Service to America anti-poverty worker, after a four-month courtship. They sold their worldly possessions in 1967 and sailed on a freighter to Europe, where they traveled for a year by Volkswagen bus. They made friends in campgrounds and got as far as Israel.

“We did the whole year for $4,000,” his wife said.

“When they returned, he resumed a talent he had discovered before he departed,” The Sun wrote. “He was good at selling antiques, especially collectibles and stuff that captivated his friends: Old barber chairs, gaming wheels, slot machines, leaded glass and [American painter] Maxfield Parrish prints.”

He opened a shop, Think ‘n Things, on Charles Street before moving it, and his family, to Mount Washington.

“In a house across the street from Pimlico Race Course, they embarked on another great adventure: Raising five children and putting them all through college,” The Sun wrote.

The antique business suffered when the Jones Falls flooded Mount Washington. Mr. Kloze and his wife then sold their antiques at flea markets. He was once defeated for a seat in the Baltimore City Council in 1979, losing to Norman Reeves, Tom Waxter and Rochelle Spector in a crowded race.

He became a community activist and helped organize neighborhood tax-appeal clinics, suggested traffic control plans for the Pimlico Race Course area and helped secure school breakfast programs for Northwest Baltimore schools.


“Larry was a great teacher,” said his wife, Vicki Isenstein Kloze. “He also lived a simple life and got a lot from a little. We raised five kids that way.”

Mr. Kloze and his wife continued to travel and camp across America during summers when their children were out of school in a Dodge van.

Lawrence Martin “Larry” Kloze was committed to public and private gardens and liked to establish small parcels in neglected areas.

After permanently settling in Mount Washington in the early 1970s, Mr. Kloze took up gardening through a chance suggestion of his sister-in-law, Marcia Isenstein, a horticulturalist. He also got into community gardening and later became a master gardener through a University of Maryland program.

“I really like bush beans because you get a lot from a little space,” he told The Sun in 2006. “You can tell a lot about a person after they pick a row of beans. Picking beans is a measure of someone’s inner strength. It takes restraint and concentration and patience and understanding.”

Mr. Kloze was committed to public and private gardens and liked to establish small parcels in neglected areas.

His goal was to teach people the art of growing enough vegetables to feed themselves or to supply a soup kitchen.


“His mantra is ‘Living on Less,’ Whole Earth Catalog-style. His clothes come from Village Thrift,” the 2006 Sun story said. “His thick white mane is trimmed by Vicki, his wife... He maintains and does most of the repairs on his vintage motorcycle: a 1970 BMW... And the couple still paint their own house — inside and out — as they have since Don McLean began singing ‘American Pie.’”

Mr. Kloze prided himself on his, and his family’s, habits of personal thrift and hard work.

“We don’t buy any big-ticket items in life at all,” he said. “That’s very important, cooking for yourself, you save a lot of money that way.”

The Morning Sun


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He and his wife made their own spaghetti sauce, their own pizza and grew all their own vegetables in a 20-by-30-foot garden. They didn’t buy junk food, name brands or processed foods.

They heated their home with a woodstove.

“People in their neighborhood call them when they want a tree cut down, so heat costs them nothing. They then use the wood ash to fertilize the garden,” The Sun wrote in 1991.


Mr. Kloze said he could fix his own car, a washing machine and do some basic carpentry. He taught himself with several shelves of books — bought secondhand — on how to fix things.

He also was a champion of composting.

Survivors include Vicki Isenstein, his wife of 56 years; three sons, Gideon Kloze of Baltimore, Max Kloze of Seattle, Washington, and Abraham Kloze of Unionville, Connecticut; two daughters, Sarah Kloze of New York City, and Rachel Mincin of Silver Spring; a sister, Barbara Shapiro of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.

Services were held Wednesday.