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Richard Wyman, philanthropist and executive at Hochschild Kohn, dies

Richard Wyman, philanthropist and executive at Hochschild Kohn, dies
Maurice Richard Wyman helped run the Hochschild Kohn department store in Baltimore. (Handout / HANDOUT)

Maurice Richard Wyman, who helped run the iconic Hochschild Kohn department store in downtown Baltimore and donated millions to various local charities, died at home in Baltimore Tuesday of lung cancer. He was 87.

Mr. Wyman, who went by the nickname Dick, was born in Baltimore to Henry E. Wyman, who owned Wyman Shoes, a shoe store on Lexington Street, and Carrie Kohn Wyman, a homemaker and sister of Martin Kohn, president of the Hochschild Kohn department store.

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After graduating from the Park School of Baltimore in 1945, Mr. Wyman attended Duke University for a few years before leaving early after his father's death. He went to work at Wyman Shoes as vice president until 1947, when he joined Hochschild Kohn, starting off as a buyer and rising to become executive vice president.

Hochschild Kohn on North Howard Street was one of the largest department stores in Baltimore, and expanded to satellite locations on York Road and at Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie.

Mr. Wyman had an eye for clothes and introduced what his family believes were the first bikinis to be sold in Baltimore, after he saw them on a trip to France. The bikinis were too cutting edge for the time and did not sell well early on.

"He was one of the few people who had a sense of both the financial mechanics and the feel of a good cloth," said Liz Moser, a cousin from Baltimore. "The rest of his family was good at either the retail or the selling part."

Mr. Wyman helped oversee the opening of satellite Hochschild Kohn stores in the suburbs, including at Edmondson Village Shopping Center. He also served in Korea from 1950 to 1953 as a first lieutenant, then returned to Hochschild Kohn.

Henry Abrams, a nephew from Baltimore, said Mr. Wyman was slated to take over the family business, but another relative sold the department store to Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway in 1966. In 1969, he was recruited to work as the vice president for corporate development for Edison Brothers Stores in St. Louis, a shoe store.

At Edison Brothers, Mr. Wyman helped oversee several acquisitions that expanded the company, including Jean's West, a denim company, Fashion Conspiracy, a juniors' line, and United Sporting Goods.

Mr. Wyman retired from Edison Brothers in 1988, returning to Baltimore and keeping a second home in Jupiter, Fla. He became a limited partner at First Manhattan Co., a boutique investment firm, in New York in 1989 and worked there until his death.

Relatives said Mr. Wyman donated several million to charities around the region, including to the Associated Jewish Charities, Johns Hopkins Children's Center and KIPP Public Charter Schools. He also donated to his alma mater, the Park School, and a 44,000 square-foot arts wing at the school bears his name.

"I think he felt that he had been incredibly fortunate and it was incumbent upon him to do what he could to help others," said Jean Wyman, a daughter from Baltimore. "He was very interested in education policy and what could be done to improve the system for a majority of people who couldn't attend private schools."

George Dover, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, said Mr. Wyman and his wife donated money to open a new nursery.

"He felt very strongly about children and knew that both their health and their education were essential," Dr. Dover said. "His wisdom and his advice, in addition to his philanthropy, I think will be significantly missed."

Mr. Wyman was seen as the patriarch of his large and tight-knit family, relatives said. He became a second father to his three nieces and nephews, including Mr. Abrams, after their parents died at a young age.

When they were children, Mr. Abrams said, he and his brother accidentally sparked a fire in the house and Mr. Wyman came home and saw what happened.

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"I was crying," Mr. Abrams said. "My goldfish and my stuffed rabbit were on the second floor. He climbed the fireman's ladder and retrieved them for me."

Relatives also spoke of the advice and financial support he would provide to his extended family.

"We would call Dick for any kind of help with any kind of financial stuff," Ms. Moser said. "Our family is top heavy with women and Dick was the man growing up."

Mr. Wyman enjoyed reading, golf and tennis, and was a member of the Suburban Club in Pikesville and the Lotos Club of New York. He was an avid card player and enjoyed playing gin rummy and bridge with friends.

A funeral was held Friday at Druid Ridge Cemetery, with a memorial service at the Park School.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Wyman is survived by his wife of 30 years, Judith Wertheimer Wyman; a son, Frank Wyman of Short Hills, N.J.; and five grandchildren. A marriage to Marjorie Weinstock ended in divorce after 25 years.

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