Eric I. Weile, 72, a former member of the Maryland House of Delegates and retired area ice cream entrepreneur, died Saturday at his home in Cape Coral, Fla., after a heart attack.
He owned and operated Weile's Creations, first in Hyattsville and then in Langley Park for more than 40 years before selling his store in 1978. He retired to Florida earlier this year.
Mr. Weile and his establishment became an area legend over the years. Not for him was the simple "one scoop or two" approach to selling ice cream.
Known to some as the "Jolly Cream Giant," his creations included over 70 house specialties. There was "the Washington Monument," a vertical banana split using 10 scoops of ice cream; "The Lincoln Memorial," using five pints of ice cream molded in cylinders to simulate the memorial's 54 columns; and "The German Paradise," ice cream in a stein of root beer.
As with many artists his path was neither easy nor particularly logical. He was a native of Germany where he attended business school and eventually became sales manager of a perfume firm.
He later told a reporter for The Post that he became triply unpopular during the 1930s: He was a Jew, sold a French product and drove and American car.
He came to this country and settled in this area in 1936. Shortly after that he established a hamburger and penny candy stand. Eventually, fate struck. One week in 1947 he ordered six canteloupes from a wholesaler. There was a slight mix-up and he received six crates, each containing 40 melons.
"I was too proud to send them back but I had to do something. So I cut them in half and dressed them up with ice cream and fresh fruit. I had to charge 75 cents apiece for them and I thought nobody would buy.
"But in a few days all 240 were sold. I told myself, if people are that crazy, I'll figure out something they'll spend $1.00 on." And his "Washington Monument" was born. As Mr. Weile said, "That was the beginning."
Over the years he also became active in civic, charitable and Jewish organizations. A Democrat, he spent four years in the Maryland House of Delegates before being defected for renomination in 1970.
In 1962, he was elected president of the B'nai B'rith Argo Lodge No. 413. In 1968, he was elected president of B'nai B'rith District No. 5, which covered the southern coastal states. He also had been president of the National Capital Association of B'nai B'rith Lodges.
He served on the board of both the Jewish Community Council and Temple Israel in Silver Spring and was a member of the Jewish Welfare Board.
Mr. Weile had been a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club in Langely Park and was a member of the Optimists Club.
Survivors include his wife, Helen, of Cape Coral; a son, Spencer, of Israel; a daughter, Lisa Slayton, of Virginia Beach, and two grandchildren.