Robert J. Pfeffer Sr., an Air Force veteran and founder of a trucking and warehousing company, died May 13 of dementia at Copper Ridge, a Sykesville memory care facility. The former Timonium resident was 92.
Robert Jerome Pfeffer Sr., who was the son of Jesse Pfeffer, a waitress, was born in Baltimore and raised on East 25th Street.
Mr. Pfeffer, whose father abandoned his family when he was an infant, began working when he was 12 years old, cutting grass at Green Mount Cemetery.
He was forced to leave high school and go to work to help support his mother, and in 1945 joined the Air Force. He was discharged a year later with the rank of corporal and returned to Baltimore to again financially assist his mother.
While working at Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., Mr. Pfeffer met and fell in love with the former Ruth Herbbel, whom he married in 1948.
Mr. Pfeffer returned to school and earned his General Educational Development diploma, and then went to night school at the University of Baltimore, where he earned a certificate in transportation, family members said.
After working for several local trucking companies, Mr. Pfeffer established his own firm, Bob’s Transport and Storage Co. Inc., in 1965.
“He once thought about changing the company’s name because it sounded too small,” wrote a son, Steve Pfeffer of Westminster, in a biographical profile of his father.
“All of the customers told him not to. They said they knew him and his reputation was fantastic,” he wrote. “Changing the name would hide what he had accomplished. The name stayed.”
Mr. Pfeffer added warehousing as he expanded the business.
“Dad mortgaged his house to expand and managed to pay it off and then mortgaged it again for more expansion,” his son wrote. “This terrified my mother. I believe [he] did it three times.”
Mr. Pfeffer’s five children worked in the family business after high school. It is still family-owned-and-operated.
And as busy as he was growing his business, he still managed to spend time with his children, his son said in a telephone interview.
His client list included Domino Sugar, R.J. Reynolds, General Electric, Unilever, Giant Food, Quaker Oats and Clorox.
The Jessup business, which was once located in Rosedale, grew to include 79 tractors, 400 trailers and more than 135 employees.
Mr. Pfeffer retired in 2010.
“Dad never sought to be in the limelight. He did things without fanfare. He lived the American dream,” his son wrote. “He taught all of us that you work hard, never quit, and you will be successful. The only failure in life is giving up.”
Mr. Pfeffer and his wife, who lived in Parkville before moving to Timonium in 1970, had been longtime active members of Cavalry Lutheran Church on Old Harford Road in Hamilton, where he had served as congregational president.
She died in 2016.
Mr. Pfeffer enjoyed collecting coins, his son said, “but business was his real hobby.”
Funeral services were held Monday at the Schimunek Funeral Home in Nottingham.
In addition to his son, he is survived by two other sons, Robert J. Pfeffer Jr. of Bel Air and Gary Pfeffer of Ecuador; two daughters, Darla Pfeffer of Perry Hall and Julie Milhorn of Timonium; seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.