Howard Mitnick, a successful furniture company executive and innovator and a city official in Baltimore, Maryland, died Sunday at the Hilton Head Island Hospital. Mr. Mitnick was 92 years.
He began his career after serving in the Air Force during World War II. He and his brother opened their first furniture store, Mitnick Brothers, in an underserved inner City Baltimore neighborhood in the 1950s. They later opened a second store in Glen Burnie, Maryland, outside Baltimore. An avid supporter in the early days of the civil rights movement, one of Mr. Mitnick's proudest moments was the day he took Brooklyn Dodger All Star baseball player Jackie Robinson on a tour of Baltimore, including a meal at one of the city's finest restaurants, at a time when many fancy restaurants in the city would not admit African-American customers. He spent several days talking to restaurant owners and finally found one who was receptive to having one of the most successful players in baseball history, a player who broke the color line in major league baseball, dine at his downtown restaurant.
Mitnick was a political force in Baltimore as well. He was appointed by then Mayor William Donald Schaefer in the 1970s to the Civic Center Commission, which, at the time was the home for the Balitmore Bullets NBA team and a minor league ice hockey team, the Baltimore Clippers. And he was the campaign chairman for former Baltimore Comptroller Hyman Pressman.
Mr.Mitnick moved to Albany, New York in 1977, where he met his soon to be wife of 38 years Marianna Haykel, whom he married in 1980. The two of them created a highly successful furniture sales company in 1983, which sold millions of dollars worth of furniture for stores that were going out of business, from coast to coast. They retired in the early 2000s, to their home in Hilton Head, where they lived happily ever after, and Mitnick retained his political activism. He served as the president of the local American Civil Liberties Chapter ACLU, for several years.
In addition, Mr.Mitnick became an avid physical fitness participant and worked out at a local gym at least three times a week until the last month of his life, where he developed a close friendship with his trainer.
He is survived by his wife, Marianna, and three sons, two grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.