Leonard George Getschel III, a gemologist and Smyth Jewelers executive who managed its Ellicott City store, ended his life Oct. 19. The Lutherville resident was 37.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Leonard George "Buzz" Getschel Jr. and the former Laura Mech. He was the great-grandson of Albert Smyth, who founded the jewelry business in Baltimore in 1914.
Known as George, Mr. Getschel grew up on Edgevale Road in Roland Park and was an acolyte at Grace United Methodist Church. He was a 1996 graduate of St. Paul's School, where he played varsity lacrosse and soccer. He earned all-conference honors in soccer in his senior year.
"George grew up on this campus. He went here for 13 years," said Rick Brocato, the St. Paul's lacrosse coach and a middle-school science teacher. "He was a hardworking boy in the classroom and he was hardworking out of it. We counted on him on the lacrosse field. He played all the time but did not seek the glory. George always did his best to help the whole team. He was a person who could be counted on by his peers."
After his high school graduation, he attended Colgate University and earned a bachelor of business administration degree from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. He was a member of the Chi Phi fraternity and played varsity lacrosse.
Mr. Getschel earned a graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America in Carlsbad, Calif., and a master's degree in business administration from Georgetown University in Washington. He worked as a graduate student at Sotheby's auctions in New York City and identified rare and precious estate jewelry.
"George could tell you more about a diamond than you would ever want to know," said Stanley Heuisler, a longtime family friend who lives in Roland Park. "He was a positive, adventurous, fun-loving kid who always had a smile on his face. He brought a sense of family to his family's business and made it permeate the entire company. George and the Smyths understand jewelry the way Under Armour understands sportswear."
After initially working at Smyth's, family members said, Mr. Getschel wanted to gain experience outside the family business and joined Tiffany & Co. in Philadelphia. He was sales manager of its Walnut Street-Rittenhouse Square store in downtown Philadelphia and was later assigned to open its Towson Town Center store. He cut the store's white ribbon on its opening day in 2010.
In a 2010 Baltimore Sun interview, Mr. Getschel said he had decided to leave the family business, where he had worked as a young man. He called the move a "a natural progression" in his career.
"I have a lifelong history in jewelry. I grew up in the family business. I was there at a very young age, and I worked in all elements of the jewelry business. I was taking gemology classes as a teenager. It's not exactly what every teenager does," Mr. Getschel said. "I particularly liked diamonds. I don't know if it's something I would have chosen otherwise. But since my family was in the business, it made sense. And when I did it, I found that it was interesting."
Asked in The Sun interview whether there would be competition between his family's business and the Tiffany firm, Mr. Getschel said, "We'll be in the same market. But my family is very supportive, and they are excited to have me back in Baltimore."
He said in the interview that he enjoyed assisting customers during momentous times. "Engagements are always exciting," he said in 2010. "We've actually had in-store engagements we've been a part of. I also like milestone moments, like 40th anniversaries where people are buying a gift of jewelry. When you get to be involved in that moment, it can be exciting for us. I've sold engagement rings to just about every one of my friends."
Mr Getschel had a large number of friends in Baltimore.
"George was incredibly passionate about his family and friends," said Brandon J. Bortner, another longtime friend and an attorney who lives in Chevy Chase. "He was a part of the most important moments in my life — like he was for so many — and he made every one of those moments more memorable with his genuine enthusiasm, love of fun and happiness for others. He was the one we sought out in a crowd and the true cornerstone of our community of friends."
Mr. Getschel returned to Smyth Jewelers three years ago and initially managed a Pandora jewelry store in Tysons Corners in Virginia owned by the family. He had been manager of Smyth's Ellicott City store since 2013.
A runner and lifelong athlete, Mr. Getschel completed the Philadelphia Marathon as well as the Baltimore Half-Marathon. A few weeks ago, he completed the Tough Mudder Race in West Virginia. He was an avid Ravens fan and belonged to the Baltimore Country Club.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at Grace United Methodist Church, 5407 N. Charles St.
In addition to his parents, survivors include his wife of seven years, the former Jacqueline Shepherd; two sons, George William Getschel and Henry Shepherd Getschel; a brother, Karl Mech Getschel; and a sister, Marian G. Yanega. All the family members reside in Lutherville.