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Furniture Store Owner, Museum Docent Fred Litwin

Fred Litwin, shown in 2003, owned Litwin Furniture on Indiana Avenue NW, which was known as a social gathering spot.
Fred Litwin, shown in 2003, owned Litwin Furniture on Indiana Avenue NW, which was known as a social gathering spot. (By James M. Thresher -- The Washington Post)

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Fred Litwin, 83, owner of Litwin Furniture in downtown Washington, died of thoracic aortic dissection Sept. 14 at Maplewood Park Place in Bethesda. He had Parkinson's disease.

Mr. Litwin owned and operated what was considered the most social business in the city at 637 Indiana Ave. NW. Regulars used the three-story, granite-front building crowded with used furniture and a few antiques as a daily stop on their rounds. The store had been in his family since the 1920s, and it was housed in one of the oldest buildings in the downtown area.

Mr. Litwin led a successful fight to save the property, as well as others in the area owned by small businesses, from redevelopment efforts in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He sold the property in January 2003 after his health prevented him from operating the business any longer.

Mr. Litwin was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., and moved with his family to Hartford, Conn., during the Depression. He served in the Army in the United States during World War II, then attended the University of Connecticut. He worked for several years in Connecticut for Pratt and Whitney and then in television repair until he moved to Washington in 1950 to help out with the family store.

Mr. Litwin volunteered as a docent at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and lent furniture to struggling repertory theaters in the city. He also joined the longitudinal aging study at Johns Hopkins University in the 1960s.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Evelyn Litwin of Bethesda; two daughters, Sandra Litwin of Arlington and Anya Woestwin of Seattle; and a grandson.

-- Patricia Sullivan


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