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Blog: A Tribute to Stewart N. Dutterer Flower Shop

Local blogger Missie Wilcox pays tribute to the Dutterer family.

Today, we say a heartfelt goodbye to an incredible family-owned business that has been a mainstay in downtown Westminster for more than 93 years. We honor and pay tribute not only to the business itself, but also to the amazing family who created and sustained a company that has given so much to our community.

First, some history.

In 1918, Stewart Dutterer came home from the U.S. Army and decided to open a flower business with his wife Edna.  What started with a small bed of asters humbly planted behind his in-law’s home on Pennsylvania Avenue became an operation that has filled the town with flowers, and kept the family in business for three generations.

Nevin, the oldest of Stewart and Edna’s seven children, took over the business for his parents in the 1940s. Nevin worked every day of his life in the business until his death in 1975, when Eileen Gist took over the business. She since has been running the shop with her daughters Jalna Brown and Lori Graham.

Over the years, the business has triumphed over tragedy. Three fires destroyed parts of the business in 1944, 1947 and 1962.  Each time, the fires led to the business being rebuilt with an even bigger and better vision. In addition to making countless weddings and occasions more beautiful, the business has also provided the flowers for President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton’s inaugurations. The business also provided flowers for the 1993 Tournament of Roses.

Dutterer’s persevered through World War II, numerous economic cycles, and town changes.  Through it all, Dutterer’s has been an anchor for the downtown Westminster business community.

Yet recently, the economy has taken its toll on the business. 

“The latest polls from the Society of American Florists report that sales have declined by over 44 percent in the past three years,” Lori Graham said.  "Closing is a very difficult decision for us, and we thank everyone for their support of our family business.”

Any long-term business closing is a cautionary tale.

However, the flower shop's closure after so many years is just a small reason why Westminster residents are so very sad today. Rather the collective sorrow emerges from a genuine and heartfelt regret that we cannot thank the Dutterer family for all that they have done for our city well beyond the flower business.  Their hard work and creativity can be seen throughout our city and its heritage, from Eileen Gist being the catalyst for the return of the Electric Holiday Parade, to Lori Graham creating our recently successful New Year’s Eve celebration on Main Street. The family members sit on countless committees and boards, and volunteer their time in an effort to make our city even better.

The impact of their work far exceeds the confines of the flower business – it is shown on our streets, at our events, and in the success we feel as a community.

The words “thank you” just don’t seem to be enough to express the immense appreciation we collectively feel for the Dutterer family and its descendants who have done so much for downtown Westminster.  But it’s a start. So thank you.

We still look forward to seeing you around downtown.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Gail Slater January 30, 2012 at 03:03 PM
What a great article about a very special family business! They embody the concept of giving back to the community. Thanks Eileen, Lori, and Jalna, and all your employees. You will be missed!
Wendy Raith January 30, 2012 at 03:48 PM
A wonderful shop and the people in it. I guess we will have to find another flower shop to use but ladies, PLEASE don't give up on helping Westminster! You all have a true gift!
WestMonster January 31, 2012 at 01:20 PM
This business deserves a "Tribute", as the title of this article suggests. The Westminster business community and the Penn. Ave neighborhood won't be the same without this business and the color it brought. What an example of how to run a community-oriented business.

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