Richard Baldwin von Maur Jr., co-chairman of the family owned and run Von Maur department store chain, died Saturday of natural causes at the Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, Iowa, where the company is based. Von Maur was 86.

Memorial services will be held at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 121 West 12th Street in Davenport. There will be a private burial service, and a memorial service is being planned for Naples, Fla., where von Maur spent much of his time.

The company was founded in 1872 by von Maur’s grandfather, J.H.C. Petersen and his three sons. More than 50 years later, the von Maur family took complete ownership.

Von Maur is a rarity in the retail business — a midsized independent department store chain. Moreover, it’s recently been opening stores at a time when much larger national department stores have been streamlining. Over the last several decades, most independent department stores either closed or were consolidated into publicly held retailers.

Von Maur, along with his brother Charles, transformed a small downtown store to a midsized department store chain operating 33 units in 15 states as well as a chain of junior retail stores, Dry Goods, which has 37 stores. The business is headed by his son, Jim von Maur, who holds the title of president.

The late von Maur was born May 26, 1932, a son of Richard and Elsie (Wood) von Maur. He attended Davenport Schools and was a graduate of Vermont Academy in Saxons River, Vt., and Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa where he majored in economics and played basketball, football, and golf, which became a lifelong passion. Performing magic tricks was also a passion. Following his graduation, he served two years in the U.S. Navy.

In 1957, von Maur joined the family’s company and a year later got married to Susan Arp.

Von Maur is sometimes referred to as “the Nordstrom of the Midwest” because of its emphasis on service. Von Maur often said the company’s most valuable asset was its associates. Aside from his being a solid businessman, von Maur was known for his sense of humor.

The family requested expressions of sympathy be made to the Richard and Susan von Maur scholarship fund at Trinity Cathedral, Quad City Symphony, Rivermont Collegiate, or a charity of one’s choice.

 

Richard Baldwin von Maur 

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