Clarence "Slim" Ellis, 72, the chairman emeritus and former owner of Ridgewell's Caterers, died June 8 at Montgomery General Hospital after a heart attack. He lived at Rossmoor Leisure World in Silver Spring.
Mr. Ellis bought Ridgewell's in 1946 from his father-in-law, Charlie Ridgewell, who founded the company in 1928. Ridgewell's was sold to the Chicago company of Carson Pirie Scott & Co. in 1984, with Mr. Ellis continuing to serve as chairman until retiring in 1986 as chairman emeritus.
In 1986, the company employed more than 200 people and reported sales of $17 million. It may have become as well known to Washingtonians for its distinctive and ever-present purple delivery trucks as for its products and services.
Over the years, Ridgewell's had become one of the city's landmark businesses. Catering an estimated 10,000 functions a year, it has helped organize and cater various events at the White House for every president since Harry Truman.
Those events have included famed dinners for the POWs, a dinner honoring Israeli Prime Minister Menachim Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, and events during papal visits. The company seemed to serve royalty at the White House almost routinely, including two queens of the Netherlands and the queen and queen mother of the United Kingdom.
Among other memorable events catered by Ridgewell's was a series of dinners celebrating the opening of Admiral's House as the new official residence of the U.S. vice president in 1975. The company also has done work for many of the city's embassies and numerous government agencies.
Over the years catering evolved from the popular image of a truck delivering refreshments to an embassy or the home of a society dowager to big business. Corporations have devoted increasing funds to Washington entertainment. Catering these affairs came to account for the vast marjority of Ridgewell's business.
Mr. Ellis was born in Cranberry, N.C., and came here about 1930. He was a graduate of Benjamin Franklin University here. He worked at the Naval Gun Factory before taking over Ridgewell's.
Survivors include his wife, Marguerite, of Silver Spring; twin sons, Jeff and Bruce, both of Bethesda; and nine grandchildren.
RICHARD LEE PELZMAN
Richard Lee Pelzman, 67, a stockbroker who was vice president in the Washington office of Merrill Lynch, died of heart ailments June 7 at Sibley Memorial Hospital.
Mr. Pelzman, a resident of Bethesda, was born in Washington. He graduated from the McDonough School and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. During World War II he was a lieutenant in the Navy and served in the Pacific.
After the war, he managed the Fashion Shop, a menswear store in Washington that was started by his family. In 1952, he moved to New York City. He was a magazine editor and a vice president of an industrial design firm and then the head of Senior Services, a market research company he started in 1961.
In 1967, Mr. Pelzman returned here and became a stockbroker. He worked for Paine Webber until joining Merrill Lynch in 1981.
He was a member of the 1925 F Street Club in Washington and the Harmony Club in New York.
Survivors include his wife, Danya Plaw Pelzman, whom he married in 1956, of Bethesda; two children, Helen Leslie Pelzman of Cambridge, Mass., and Richard L. Pelzman Jr. of Bethesda; and a brother, Frederick N. Pelzman Jr. of Washington.