Milton Kronheim Sr., businessman, philanthropist, amateur, athlete, friend to presidents, Washington institution, insists he had no intention of quitting just because he's aproaching his 90th birthday.
"I never think about retiring," he says, "I don't want to just sit around waiting for the final call."
As the city's preeminent purveyor of wine and distilled spirits, Kronheim still involves himself in the day to day operation of the company he started back in 1903. Kronheim attributes his success to "hard work" and being "as honest in business as you possiby can," adding, "but I don't pretend to have a halo over my head."
"I'm here every day," says Kronheim, who serves as chairman of the board of Milton S. Kronheim and Co. Inc. of Washington and The Kronheim Co. of Baltimore, "I just get up and come out here. It takes a little effort sometimes."
Kronheim, who's prowess on the handball court and the pitcher's mound is legendary, still keeps in shape by working out at a gym every day. "All I can do now is punch that bag and ride that stationary bicycle," he says.
Recipient of countless awards and honors from civic and charitable groups during his long and illustrious career, Kronheim's fondest memories are of his beloved baseball team the Kronheim Bearcats and their Sunday afternoon games at 16th and Kennedy Streets. "I always looked forward to baseball every Sunday morning," he recalls, "It was the one thing that kept me going physically."
A lot of liquor has flowed under the bridge since a 15-year-old Milton Kronheim opened his wholesale distributorship at 3218 M St. "I was just a youngster and it didn't take too much capital," he says, "It had bee a liquor store and all the equipment was intact."
Prohibition put Kronheim out of business for a few years during which he worked as a bondsman. "Washington went dry in 1917 and I went with it," says Kronheim, who doesn't drink ('I don't care for alcohlic grapes."), "I came back in 1933 and I had to start over fresh."
Kronheim's office and warehouse have been located at 2900 V St. NE for the past twenty-five years and the company employs over 250 people at its two facilities.
"It's a different type of business today," says Kronheim, "We have all these employes and their families which creates tremendous responsibilities. One of the great pleasures is that I can contribute to the welfare of so many families.
Kronheim is equally as proud of his contributions, financially and otherwise, to politicians and political cause. "I was active the better part of my life on the fringes of the political scene," he says, "I enjoyed the people I was involved with. Among the greatest was Truman. I was always a Democrat, but that didn't stop me from making friends on both sides of the aisle."
His plans for the future "My plans are to come in here every morning I can get here and try to make my contribution to the welfare of the company and try to participate in as many civic things as I can."
This Sunday some of Milton Kronheim's friends will get a chance to show their appreciation at an information block party outside the company warehouse to help him celebrate his 90th birthday, which is Monday. "I'll serve some beer but no liquor," he says, "They have to do as I do. I don't drink so they don't drink."