Stanley Theodore Levinson, one of the principal owners of Sol Levinson and Bros. funeral home in Pikesville, died peacefully in his Roland Park residence on Aug. 19. He was 89.
“He was a pillar of the community,” said his daughter, Ellensue Levinson-Jeffers. “Everything he did was for the community. He felt giving back was very, very important.
“I had the privilege of working with him for 38 years,” she said. “I have been so lucky to have had a father who cared so much.”
A Baltimore native, Levinson was born on Oct. 25, 1929, the youngest son of Goldie and Emanuel Levinson. He graduated from Forest Park High School, where he was a star athlete and ice hockey player.
After graduating high school, Levinson went into the family business, Sol Levinson and Bros., which was founded in 1892. He was a member of the third generation of ownership, joining his brother, Burton, and two cousins. He also served in the U.S. Coast Guard during this period.
“He is the last of the third generation,” said Levinson-Jeffers. “Growing up, he was the heart and soul of the business. … I got to see firsthand what families felt about him. There was never a negative thing.”
Stanley Levinson married the former Celia Hyman on Sept. 4, 1955. “Stanley gave me 64 wonderful years and was devoted in taking care of me lovingly,” said Mrs. Levinson.
Stanley Levinson worked at Sol Levinson and Bros. for seven decades, growing the business exponentially during the 1960s and in subsequent decades. He stopped working at the funeral home this year.
In a 2017 Jmore article about the 125th anniversary of Sol Levinson and Bros., he spoke with great pride about the funeral home’s special place in the community.
“We give a service we feel is second to none, and we get letters from people complimenting us,” he said. “When you call us, you always get a live person, not an answering service, regardless of whether you’re calling at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning. …
“When I started working here, you couldn’t dream all this would happen,” Levinson said of the funeral home’s longevity. “ A lot of businesses open, but then a lot close.”
He said he took a philosophical approach to the funeral home business. “When you’re living around death like this, you never really get used to it,” Levinson said. “But this is the road everyone has to take, sooner or later. We’re here to handle the families’ wishes.”
Throughout his long career, Levinson was known for his tremendous compassion and empathy toward families in mourning, and he served as an unofficial family and communal historian.
“He would visit every family he would see and would be able to tell you the history of the family — the earlier generations — and tell the family things they may not even have known, and that made them feel comfortable,” said Levinson-Jeffers. “He was a mentsch in every sense of the world.”
Levinson was immersed in communal and philanthropic work as well. He was a member and past vice-president of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation brotherhood. He also belonged to Yedz Grotto, where he was the youngest monarch, Torah Lodge of B’nai B’rith and the Maryland State Board of Morticians.
In addition, he held leadership positions with the northwest unit of the American Cancer Society, the Jewish National Fund, the Maryland division of State of Israel Bonds, and the Save-A-Heart Foundation.
Levinson was founder of the Save-A-Heart Celebrity Golf Classic and ran the popular annual event for six years. He subsequently presided over the Save-A-Heart celebrity shows for another six years. In total, Levinson helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for life-saving cardiac care equipment for area hospitals and ambulances.
In his spare time, Levinson was an avid golfer and belonged to the Bonnie View and Woodholme country clubs, where he enjoyed spending time with family and friends. He also enjoyed fine dining outings with his family.
“He put his family first — his children and my mom, and he loved his grandchildren,” said Levinson-Jeffers. “It was very, very important to him.”
In addition, Levinson enjoyed spending time with his family at his vacation homes over the years in Ocean City, Md., Bethany Beach, Del., Aspen, Col., and Key Biscayne, Fla.
“My dad was a sport, so generous, loving and devoted to his family,” said Jamie Levinson-Finkelstein. “He had a lot of fun in his life and made lasting and immeasurable contributions to his community. He will be missed, but always in my heart.”
Stanley Levinson was the devoted husband of Celia H. Levinson, and father of Jamie Levinson-Finkelstein and her husband, Jay Finkelstein, and Ellensue Levinson-Jeffers and her husband, Brian Jeffers. He was the loving grandfather to Micah, Adam and Alyssa, and brother to the late Burton H. Levinson.
Funeral services for Stanley Levinson were held on Aug. 21 at Sol Levinson & Bros., 8900 Reisterstown Road, at Mount Wilson Lane. Interment at Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery on Berrymans Lane.
Contributions in his memory may be sent to the charity of your choice. The family will receive guests today, Aug. 22, from 1-4 p.m. at the Levinsons’ residence.
“He was a good man,” said Levinson-Jeffers. “He touched a lot of people’s lives.”
Jmore Senior Writer Aliza Friedlander and Editor-in-Chief Alan Feiler contributed to this article.