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Lenny's Deli Founder Leonard Smith Dies At 88

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- The 88-year-old Baltimore restauranteur Leonard Smith died last week.

Smith's funeral was held Sunday at Sol Levinson & Bros chapel. He died from sepsis on Oct. 18.

Smith of Pikesville was known for his namesake restaurant Lenny's Deli, where he's a co-owner with his son, Alan. There are locations in Owings Mills and at Horseshoe Casino.

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Alan and Lenny Smith. Courtesy: Smith Family

He's survived by his wife Carolyn Smith, his three children, Harris, Alan and Sharon, step-children Jason and Michael and 15 grandchildren. His first wife Ilene Smith, who he was married to for 31 years, died in 1983 at the age 48.

Born to Harry and Anna Smith, Lenny was one of four children. He grew up in Baltimore, attending School 59 and was a Baltimore City College graduate.

Lenny was described by his family and friends as a hard worker -- starting jobs when he was a teen. He ran a small store called Len's Variety and sold penny candy, snowballs and popcorn. It was before the regular convenience stores came to be.

He sold insurance on the side, joining People's Life Insurance fulltime. He didn't have a weekend, instead, using that time to work for Frankfort Grocery. Later he worked as a finance and insurance manager for Gladding Chevrolet for 20 years.

In 1985, he co-founded Lenny's Deli with his son Alan. It only took the pair five months to open what became a neighborhood staple.

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Lenny and Alan Smith. Courtesy: Family

Alan ran the business side and it was Lenny who was the face of the deli. He married Carolyn in 1988, welcoming her two children into his family.

Lenny retired at age 70, moving to Florida, but returned 12 years later to be closer to family.

The last decade he spent daily in Lenny's talking to customers, drinking coffee and "solving the world's problems in 20 minutes," his son Alan said.

Lenny was a lifelong fan of the Ravens, even when they were the Colts, the Orioles and Terps men's and women's basketball.

Just two weeks ago, Lenny was in California celebrating his grandson's wedding.

He enjoyed family sporting events and plays, B'nai mitzvot, weddings and graduations.

"He was a wonderful father and grandfather, but most importantly, he was a wonderful man," Alan added.

The family is asking for contributions to the Mildred Mindell Cancer Foundation in Baltimore in his honor.

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