Some employes watch the clock and wait for weekends, while others are classic workaholics. Lewis H. Maury, who turns 90 tomorrow, just didn't know when to quit.
"I enjoy people," he offers by way of explaining why he's been in real estate so long. "And I can't stand the idea of being idle."
Maury has sold condominiums and co-ops for the Boss & Phelps real estate office for the past 10 years. He has been in real estate for three decades.
Maury, who has lost his sight in recent years, walks without a cane, goes dancing, and continues to make his business rounds.
"He gets a little agitated at times when he can't locate something," said his secretary, Rose Nochera. "But he never used a cane because he didn't want people to know he's infirmed. And he remembers everything, even to the point of dictating an entire contract."
Maury hails a cab near his American University Park area home or takes a bus to the Boss & Phelps office at 3833 Veazey St. NW.
"I've gotten on the wrong bus a time or two," he said, "but I just turn around. People are very helpful."
There is a touch of the aristocratic South in the manner of Maury, whose Danville, Va., family traces itself to President Tyler and oceangrapher Matthew Fontaine Maury, who charted the wind and water currents of the world. John Walker Maury, a District mayor in the 1800s, was Lewis Maury's great-grandfather.
The real estate agent didn't finish high school, but says he has "never stopped learning."
In fact, he is fluent in Esperanto, an international language that blossomed around the turn of the century.
"After reading about it in the North American Review, I was attracted to the idea of an international language that drew people together in friendship," he recalled.
Maury, who was president of both the New York and Washington Esperanto societies, made his only trip abroad -- to Yugoslavia and Greece -- as the result of his interest.
Volumes in Esperanto, which is based on the chief European languages -- "okulo" is eye, for instance, and "dento" tooth -- line his bookshelves. They include translations of the Bible and Mario Pei's "The Story of Language," which he carefully identifies by touch.
His real estate interests began in Harrisonburg, Pa., after a stint in the Army during World War I and several years in New York, where he met his wife, who died in 1971 after a 37-year marriage.
After moving here in 1942, he ran a guest house, waited out gas rationing, and then went back into real estate.
He worked with Marshall J. Waple, Mary Frances Spaulding and Paul J. Hannan before joining Boss & Phelps, where he began specializing in selling units at The Westchester apartments on Cathedral Avenue NW.
"Even though he was elderly, I realized he had a lot to offer," said Jo Carter, Boss & Phelps president. "He's really quite remarkable."
Maury said that when he started selling co-ops and condominiums in the early 1960s, "most people wouldn't fool with them." Otherwise, he said, he has seen few changes in real estate.
"As long as I've been in the business they've complained that housing was too expensive and that real estate would go to the dogs. But it never did. Right now prices are high. But somehow, I've always founding financing for everyone."
Actually, he continued, "It's not the high prices -- it's a depressed currency. Real estate property is just the same in real money. It just costs more with this fictitious money we use." CAPTION: Picture, Lewis Maury sticks with real estate because he can't stand being idle. By Linda Wheeler - The Washington Post