Baltimore lost one of its most recognizable personalities Saturday, Oct. 19, with the passing of Edward “Eddie” Dopkin.
Dopkin, a Baltimore native who lost a three-decade-long battle with leukemia at the age of 61, was the owner of Miss Shirley’s Café and The Classic Catering People, among other local restaurants. Miss Shirley’s garnered national attention when it was featured in publications such as Food Network Magazine, The Boston Globe and The New York Times. Classic Catering serves as the official caterer of the Baltimore Ravens’ training facilities.
Sol Levinson & Bros. funeral home was filled to near capacity Monday afternoon, as Baltimore came to pay its respects to a man who, for many, embodied the city.
Not only was Dopkin a fixture in and around the Baltimore area, but “he was the fixture,” said Linda Blake, who worked with Dopkin after relocating to the city. “He is Baltimore to me.”
“Whatever he could do he would do,” said Ken Banks, who said he attended the funeral to pay his respects to the man who had helped him with numerous events hosted by his construction company.
Rabbi Steven Fink opened the service with a poem by Linda Ellis. The poem discusses the dash between the date a person is born and the date on which he or she passes.
“What mattered most of all was the dash between those years,” reads the poem.
Dopkin, said Rabbi Fink, squeezed as much life as he could in his dash.
“Eddie was a Baltimore icon,” said Rabbi Fink. “[He was] one of the most charming people in Charm City.”
Dopkin’s involvement in the hospitality industry started early. His parents owned The Beef Inn and a small catering company in Northwest Baltimore in the late 1960s and 1970s. He helped establish Classic Catering more than 40 years ago and Miss Shirley’s, named in honor of a catering employee and personal friend, in 2005.
Dopkin’s sister, Harriet Dopkin, described her brother as an innovator and a helper. She described how when she was little and wanted to be a scientist, he didn’t discourage her by telling her that’s not what girls do. Rather, he built her a lab in their parents’ basement.
“As my brother’s body grew weaker, his wisdom deepened,” she said.
Sister Anna Dopkin added that the knowledge that his time was limited and that any day he could wake up sicker than the last resulted in his determination to live a big life. She continued on to say that her brother was an out-of-box thinker and a decisive problem-solver.
“The bigger the disaster was, the better he was,” said Anne, adding that she expected she will continue to be stopped on the street by strangers telling her stories of how her brother helped them.
In 2004, Dopkin served as board chairman of the Restaurant Association of Maryland. He was a longtime member of RAM and was active in the Government Affairs Committee.
Several politicians, including Maryland Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, attended the service. Several more issued statements or took to social media with statements of support for the Dopkin family.
“Saddened to learn about the passing of @MissShirleys owner Eddie Dopkin. He did so much for #Bmore & will be missed,” said Howard County Executive Ken Ulman over Twitter.
Doug Gansler’s Twitter account said: “Our condolences go out to the family and friends of Eddie Dopkin. He will be missed.”
Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter — firstname.lastname@example.org