Dr. Norman I. Zipper, optometrist

Dr. Norman I. Zipper, optometrist

Dr. Norman I. Zipper, a retired Baltimore optometrist active in the Jewish community, died of renal failure May 12 at his Pikesville home. He was 89.

Born in East Baltimore and raised on South Ann Street, he was a 1940 City College graduate. As a young man, he worked at the Patterson Park swimming pool and was a 1943 graduate of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry in suburban Philadelphia. During World War II, he was a Maritime Service pharmacist's mate and was stationed on Catalina Island.


After the war, Dr. Zipper set up an optometric office on West Pratt Street near Pulaski and had a second one on Frederick Road in Catonsville, where he retired.

"Over his 45 years, he built a large, loyal multigenerational practice," said his son, Dr. Stuart Zipper of Owings Mills, an internist. "He was a man of honesty, integrity, professionalism and long-standing friendships."

On a blind date in late 1949, he met his future wife, the former Margot Baida. She recalled they went to see the film "Adam's Rib" in December and married in the spring.

Family members said that beginning in the 1950s, Dr. Zipper, a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, assumed leadership roles in his profession. He was a founding member and first president of the Greater Baltimore Optometric Association.

"He was a social man with a sunny disposition. He was a charmer who could flirt with the waitresses without upsetting anyone," said his daughter, Shelley Zipper of Brooklyn, N.Y. "He was a storyteller, and in his practice, he could keep people waiting a while, but when it was their turn, they had all the time in the world with him."

Gov. J. Millard Tawes appointed Dr. Zipper to the Maryland Board of Examiners of Optometry, a post he held from 1962 through 1970. He was board president from 1966 to 1968.

"He was like a second father to me," said Joyce Jones of Catonsville, the longtime office manager. "He was a wonderful man who often gave me advice."

In addition, he served as chairman of the Optometric Center of Maryland and was a life member of the American Optometric Association, chairman and life member of the Maryland Optometric Association, and director and trustee of the Vision Service Plan.

In 1995, he received the Waxman Humanitarian Award from the Maryland Optometric Association for "dedication and loyal service to Maryland Optometry and their patients."

As a child, he frequented the Jewish Educational Alliance and was a member of its Ideal Club. He remained active in the Jewish community.

For 35 years, Dr. Zipper and a group of friends had a standing Thursday night game of pitch, a card game. He was also a devotee of Baltimore restaurants and was one of the first patrons at Tio Pepe on Franklin Street, where he often ordered its roast duck on one of his regular Saturday night visits. He and friends also patronized the old Harvey House, Chesapeake and Pimlico Hotel, among others.

Family members said he rarely watched television and spent hours talking with friends in person or on the phone.

He was an active member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation and was also a regular attendee of Monday morning services, where he was a minyan, or man who would be present for the quorum necessary for a prayer service. He was a member of the Golden Eagle Square and Compass Club. A Mason, he was a member of the Scottish Rite and Cassia Lodge.

He was a season ticket holder to the Baltimore Colts. He appeared in a synagogue crowd shot in Barry Levinson's "Liberty Heights."


He also enjoyed theater and opera and was a fan of soprano Beverly Sills. He sent her fan letters and was once invited to meet her backstage. He was also a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra subscriber.

In addition to his wife of 62 years, son and daughter, survivors include another daughter, Andrea Zipper of River Vale, N.J.; two sisters, Ruth Robbins and Shirley Wolf, both of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.

Services were held May 14 at Sol Levinson & Bros.