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Samuel K. Himmelrich, philanthropist and chemical firm owner, dies

Samuel Himmelrich, his friends and family remember, was a man whose charm and high principles made him a pleasure to be around and a valuable asset when it came to raising money for good causes.
Samuel Himmelrich, his friends and family remember, was a man whose charm and high principles made him a pleasure to be around and a valuable asset when it came to raising money for good causes.

Samuel K. Himmelrich, a philanthropist whose chemical firm became part of the footprint of downtown Baltimore’s stadiums, died of cancer Oct. 11 at his Roland Park Place home. He was two days shy of his 90th birthday.

Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Alfred Rice Himmelrich, who owned the Inland Chemical Co. and his wife, Hilda Katz. He was raised in Northwest Baltimore’s Dumbarton neighborhood and attended McDonogh School before graduating from the Park School in 1948.

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In 1946, he met his future wife, Barbara Ann Levin, who was then living in Newton, Massachusetts. They were introduced when she visited a friend and attended a Park School dance.

“Though teenagers at the time, it was a meeting that would ultimately change and enrich his life," said his son, Sam Himmerlich Jr., a Baltimore resident.

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He earned a degree at Lehigh University and was a member of its Reserve Officers' Training Corps. While in school Mr. Himmelrich was a counselor at Camp Wigwam in Waterford, Maine. Family members said he made friends there who lasted a lifetime.

“Sam’s demeanor was that of a wise man,” said attorney Shale Stiller, a friend for 60 years. “He embodied the ability to deal with complicated matters and of being able to work out relationships. He always wanted to bring people together. I personally admired what he stood for -- rectitude, integrity and high principles.”

Mr. Himmelrich married Barbara Levin June 29, 1952 at Boston’s Copley Plaza Hotel.

The couple lived briefly in Hampton, Virginia, where he was a supply officer at Langley Air Force Base.

After completing military service, Mr. Himmelrich joined Inland Oil and Chemical company, a business founded by his father in 1926. The firm, then located on West North Avenue, served Baltimore’s paint manufacturers and printers. He was a past president of the Baltimore, Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association, a trade group.

He led an expansion of the business, adding new products and customers. In 1974, Inland acquired a competitor, Leidy Chemical Company, forming Inland Leidy Chemicals. He ran that combined business for another 20 years.

When the Maryland Stadium Authority was acquiring properties for what became Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Mr. Himmelrich sold his plant and offices occupied by Inland Leidy on South Eutaw Street. The land became part of the parking lots used by patrons of both the Orioles and Ravens. He then acquired Woodberry’s Meadow Mill from the Londontowne Manufacturing Co., a firm that made London Fog rainwear.

“My father would bring my brothers and me to work with him on Christmas Eve day and then (bring) us to lunch,” said his son, Sam Himmelrich Jr. “The tradition evolved to include his grandchildren, always gathering at one long table at Sabatino’s in Little Italy.”

Mr. Himmelrich was active in Baltimore charities and cultural organizations.

He was a past president of the Walters Art Museum trustees' board; chair of the board of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore; vice president and treasurer of the Park School board, and a longtime board member of the Maryland Board of Physicians and the Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center.

He also served on the board of Maui Land and Pineapple Company, representing the Associated Jewish Federation.

“Prospective donors were powerless to resist Sam’s charm,” said Jay M. Wilson, a former Walters Art Museum board president and chair. “It was difficult to convince people that the Walters was worthy of private support, but he did it. He was a part of the leadership of three successive capital campaigns -- for an endowment, for the 1904 Gallery and for Hackerman House.”

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Mr. Wilson also said, “We were in a full solicitation mode and Sam approached the process of fundraising with a sense of joy. He always seemed to have a smile on his face. His enthusiasm was infectious.”

A family friend, Barbara K. Shapiro, said, “Sam was the supreme gentleman. He was a happy, caring guy who had a lovely way of living. I never heard him raise his voice. He liked to be involved in the community. He was a thinker and a good board member.”

“My husband will be remembered for his good looks, his impish sense of humor, and his gracious style,” said his wife, Barbara. “He loved poking around in the kitchen, tending to his garden, playing a round of golf or tennis, spending summers in Maine, fly fishing for bonefish in the Bahamas and going to Faidleys at the Lexington Market for oysters and Maryland crab soup.”

She also said, “All these activities which were more fun when his children, grandchildren, and friends joined in. Most of all we enjoyed an awe-inspiring social life. We were best friends to each other."

In addition to his son, Mr. Himmelrich is survived by his wife of 68 years; a daughter, Sue Himmelrich of Santa Monica, California; two other sons, Alfred Himmelrich of Baltimore and Billy Himmelrich of Gulf Stream, Florida; ten grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

A private funeral will be held Wednesday at Sol Levinson and Brothers.

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