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William A. Schoeberlein, longtime Baltimore Cadillac sales manager, dies

William Schoeberlein
William Schoeberlein (HANDOUT)

William A. Schoeberlein Jr., a longtime Baltimore Cadillac sales manager who played on an undefeated 1943 Navy soccer team and was a member of a card club that met monthly for more than 50 years, died of a heart condition at the Genesis Multi-Medical Center in Towson Friday, a month shy of his 93rd birthday.

Mr. Schoeberlein, who grew up collecting discarded bottles and newspapers for extra money during the Depression, wasn't overly wealthy but sold cars to many of the well-to-dos in town and always drove new Fleetwood Broughams and Eldorados from the dealership, his son said.

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"We would be traveling around in style and comfort going back to our little rowhouse," said his son Robert Schoeberlein, 56, of Columbia.

The son of William A. Schoeberlein Sr., an independent carpenter, and Eleanor Stanton, a homemaker who played the piano and organ for silent movie theaters, William Alfred Schoeberlein Jr. was born Nov. 19, 1922, and raised at 819 S. Linwood Ave. in Canton. He was one of five children.

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Mr. Schoeberlein played baseball and soccer in the Playground Athletic League at Patterson Park and earned a baseball scholarship at Loyola High School. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy and played on the undefeated varsity soccer team as a plebe.

During flight training in the Midwest, Mr. Schoeberlein played baseball for the Iowa Seahawks. He played semi-professionally on the Albany Baseball Club of the Eastern League until a shoulder injury finished his sports career.

He met his wife, Jennie H. Sokolowska, in 1946 at a bar on Fleet Street, Robert Schoeberlein said. The two shared the same birthday and had three children in their 67 years of marriage. Mrs. Schoeberlein, who went by Jane, died in 2014.

Mr. Schoeberlein worked for Fisher Body, a division of General Motors, and became factory representative for North and South Carolina in the early 1950s.

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In 1953 he began a decades-long career in sales at Swartz Cadillac Co. at Reisterstown Road and Hayward Avenue in Northwest Baltimore, one of just two of the company's dealerships in Maryland in the popular luxury car's heyday.

The job — and the shiny rides that came with it — made him something of a local celebrity, his son said.

"When we would go out anywhere, to the store or a movie, he would invariably bump into someone who knew him," Robert Schoeberlein said. "I thought he must be, in my eyes, like the mayor of Baltimore. He was up there with Babe Ruth, in my eyes."

On special occasions, Mr. Schoeberlein would drive home a limousine and take his family to a drive-in movie in style, he said.

Mr. and Mrs. Schoeberlein raised a family in Belair-Edison and spent summers on a large screened-in porch at a house he and his brother-in-law built on Marley Creek in Anne Arundel County, which they affectionately called "the Shore."

"We would move down there as soon as school would end," said another son, William Schoeberlein III, 61, of Nottingham. "It was a rougher lifestyle — no air-conditioning, no heat — but it was great."

Mr. Schoeberlein and about seven or eight friends in his eastside city neighborhood established a monthly card club that lasted more than 50 years. The ante was a penny, and the group would drink a case of beer and eat a box of doughnuts as they played.

"If someone won $3," Robert Schoeberlein said, "he thought he was a king."

Mr. Schoeberlein sang with his father and sons in a barbershop quartet and so often crooned the old Bing Crosby tune "Pennies from Heaven" with his wife that he sang it at her funeral.

On a trip to New Orleans in his 70s, Mr. Schoeberlein tap-danced on Bourbon Street as passersby clapped and hollered, William Schoeberlein III said. Then, once they'd rounded a corner, he stopped to catch his breath.

"'I have to sit down, my back is killing me,'" his son remembered him saying. "That showman was the way my dad was. He loved song and dance and old movies."

His sister, Anna Seitl, 88, of Fallston, remembered him as "the life of a party."

As soon as they met him, "people would think they'd known him for a while," she said. "He was very jolly."

When they were young, Mr. Schoeberlein would use his extra money from a job at a fruit-packing plant to take his sisters to the store for lemon phosphates, Mrs. Seitl said.

His children described him as a loving father who set up an elaborate fantasy Christmas train garden and staged conversations with Santa Claus into the ventilation grates so they could hear him on Christmas Eve.

Having grown up in the Depression, Mr. Schoeberlein had a saying: "Always have a dollar in your pocket." When his grandson said his final goodbye, he handed Mr. Schoeberlein a dollar, William Schoeberlein III said. Mr. Schoeberlein beamed as he accepted it.

A service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Interment Gardens of Faith Cemetery.

In addition to his sister and his two sons, Mr. Schoeberlein is survived by a daughter, Patricia J. McNutt, of Alexandria, Va.; a brother, John Schoeberlein, of Baltimore; another sister, Mary Wheeler, of Danville, Va.; and five grandchildren. Another sister, Eleanor Jacobs, died in 2007.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the year of Mrs. Schoeberlein's death. She died in 2014. The Sun regrets the error.

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