Donald Abrams owned clothier


Donald Abrams, former business owner and a poet and artist, died Saturday, Aug. 2, 2008, at Barnes-Jewish Extended Care in Clayton, of cardiac disease. He was 87 and a longtime Clayton resident.

Mr. Abrams was the owner and president of Werner-Hilton, a men’s clothing chain founded by his father-in-law, Julius Werner, in St. Louis in 1919. The last of the locally-owned chain of five stores closed in 1984. Mr. Abrams was born in Gary, Ind., on March 31, 1921.

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Mr. Abrams’s childhood was spent in the near North Side of Chicago. His family often recalled its “famous relative,” his great uncle, Al Weinshenker, who was an inadvertent victim of the infamous “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” in Chicago on Feb. 14, 1929. The family made a point of celebrating the holiday together in subsequent years. He moved to the DeMun area of Clayton in 1934. He graduated from Clayton High School in 1938 and Washington University and its School of Law simultaneously in 1942. He was a member of Pi Lambda Phi fraternity at the university.

Mr. Abrams enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1942, and became a commissioned officer on the destroyer USS Wells. Between August 1944 and August 1945, the Wells provided support in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Mr. Abrams was in the opening assault at Leyte Gulf, considered to be the largest naval batle of World War II in the Pacific.

For the last 20 years of his life, Mr. Abrams wrote poems, drew pictures and took part in two weekly men’s discussion groups. Admirers called his poems and artistic works “inspirational.”

Graveside services were held last week at United Hebrew Cemetery in University City.

Among the survivors are his wife, Beverly Werner Abrams; two sons, Lawrence W. Abrams of Watsonville, Calif., and James A. Abrams of Phoenix; a daughter, Lynne R. Luck of Gahanna, Ohio; eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Tribute Fund, the Scholarship Foundation of St. Louis, 8215 Clayton Road, St. Louis, MO, 63117.