Bertha Klein Atlas, 74, retired president of the Atlas Sports Store who sold sports equipment to generals and presidents for 25 years, died Saturday at George Washington University Hospital. She had cancer.
Mrs. Atlas helped her husband, Oliver Atlas, operate the old store at Ninth and D streets NW for many years, and served as its president for two years following his retirement in 1960.
The Atlas family founded the store in 1891, and Mrs. Atlas and her husband sold fishing equipment to presidents Herbert C. Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Franklin D. Roosevelt, President Calvin Coolidge bought a Parker model shotgun at the store and President John F. Kennedy bought tennis equipment there.
Other regular customers included Army generals Billy Mitchell and Nathan F. Twining. Army Gen. Walter Bedell Smith started buying his fishing equipment at the store in the 1930s while at the Army War College.
Following his stint as ambassador to the Soviet Union, Smith presented a copy of his book, "My Three Years in Moscow" with the inscription, "To my friends Ollie and Bertha Atlas, who for more than 20 years have helped keep me happy and broke."
Everyone who worked at the store was a sports enthusiast of some skill. Mrs. Atlas was an expert with the trolling rod who won an award from the Miami (Fla.) Chamber of Commerce in a king mackerel fishing contest.
Oliver Atlas died in 1972. The Atlas stores were sold to W.R. Grace & Co. in 1973.
Mrs Atlas was a native of Washington and a graduate of the old Business High School. She was a resident of Washington.
Survivors include a son, Simon, of Bethesda; two daughters, Rita Goldstein of Atlanta, and Sonia Levin of Washington, 12 grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.