Samuel Himmelrich Sr., a prominent philanthropist from Pikesville, died Oct. 11, two days short of his 90th birthday.
Himmelrich, a congregant of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation, was a real estate developer and founder at Himmelrich Associates, Inc. He served as both a life director and chairman of the board at The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, in addition to serving as chair of endowment and on the special task force of Baltimore’s Holocaust Memorial. He was also vice president of the Council of Jewish Federations.
He was born in Baltimore, where he graduated Park School of Baltimore. He attended Lehigh University and then served in the U.S. Air Force.
Himmelrich stood for unconditional love and honesty, according to his son, Billy Himmelrich.
“He didn’t hesitate to share his opinions,” Billy Himmelrich said. “He always said, ‘If you say the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.’”
Billy Himmelrich recalled his dad’s propensity to share what was on his mind unabashedly.
Samuel Himmelrich Sr.’s daughter, Sue Himmelrich, remembered her father as a sporty family man, who supported the Jewish community and who had a flair for food.
“He made us breakfast every day and made my mom her coffee because she wasn’t a morning person. And you know, my brother Alfie now does that for his family,” she said.
“There is something to be said about role modeling.”
Sue Himmelrich emphasized that her father’s devotion to the community was only one half of the team he made with his wife, Barbara. They created a legacy of charity.
Billy Himmelrich agreed. “It’s hard to talk about my father without talking about both of my parents, because they were very much one unit,” he said.
For example, Barbara Himmelrich, who served as a head of The Associated board, and Samuel Himmelrich once went on a trip to Russia, where they salvaged Judaica items such as books.
In addition to donating time, financial support and gifts to Baltimore’s Jewry, they also united the community.
“He had this uncanny knack for bringing together people who might have different opinions and doing it in an elegant way where everyone was heard and could come to a common ground,” said Marc Terrill, president of The Associated.
Terrill described Himmelrich as a thoughtful, generous and principled gentleman. They first met in Israel after Terrill accepted The Associated’s invitation to come to Baltimore. “I was meeting the leaders, Barbara and Sam, in Jerusalem in October of 1989. That first time I met Sam, he was just such a kind, warm-hearted person. He let me know that even though I didn’t have family in Baltimore, I do now,” Terrill said.
The two participated in more mission trips together, to the point where they greeted each other with “How’s my buddy?” and a big hug. Himmelrich was even at Terrill’s wedding when a snowstorm in 1993 trapped them in Pittsburgh. “I joke that I had the privilege of sharing my honeymoon with him and 25 other guests,” Terrill said.
Terrill hopes the community remembers how grateful Himmelrich was.
“He understood that with success and accomplishment comes responsibility,” Terrill said. “He was always giving back and showing expressions of gratitude. I think that’s a lesson for all of us.”
Himmelrich is survived by wife of 68 years, Barbara; children Sue Himmelrich, Samuel K. Himmelrich Jr., Alfred Himmelrich and William Himmelrich; grandchildren Hilary Soloff, Molly Soloff, Anna Himmelrich, Jacob Himmelrich, Carrie Himmelrich Salem, Ella Himmelrich, Hannah Himmelrich, Sam Himmelrich, Max Himmelrich and Charlie Himmelrich; and four great-grandchildren.