Stanley Mehr Dies

Mehr was a longtime McLean resident and co-founder of Mehr Brothers Flowers.

Stanley Mehr, long-time resident of McLean and co-founder of Mehr Brothers Flowers, passed away at his home Monday, Jan. 14, following a brief illness.

Mehr was 94.

At the time of his death he was surrounded by those to whom he been closest in recent years, including his daughter Julia, and two dear friends who were also employees—Zoe Sollenberger, who had worked at Mehr Brothers for 38 years, and Tshering Tamang, who had been an employee for 25.

Mehr and his brother Seymour began farming flowers on a plot of land off Old Dominion Road in 1951, operating under the name Mehr Brothers Flowers. In those early years, Mehr was employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he had a distinguished career until his retirement more than 35 years ago.

Seymour passed away from leukemia in 1957, and Stanley kept the business going, retaining the name Mehr Brothers in tribute to his beloved sibling. 

For decades, Mehr resisted offers from developers to buy his four-acre parcel. In a 2011 profile in the Fairfax Times, he questioned the wisdom of selling, even though a sale would have provided substantial earnings. “Sit in an apartment in a high rise?” he stated rhetorically, referring to his deep love of land far beyond any need for material wealth. 

Mehr was one of McLean’s more engaging and even enigmatic characters. Many of his customers became close friends, and he returned the friendships with affection, concern and empathy.

Frequently they stopped by Mehr Brothers, or Stanley would go to their houses, simply to discuss current events, engage in political debates, or share a laugh. Customers—and particularly his customers’ children—enjoyed all the chickens, ducks and pigeons that resided on his property. He never invested in cable television because, as he had stated, he never had enough time to read, let alone watch TV. He was known for his passion for knowledge and his penchant for questioning the world around him. It was often said that no visitor came up his dirt driveway without being asked about their pastimes, pursuits and livelihoods. 

Stan was the first born of Joseph and Celia Mehr, Jewish immigrants who raised their children in Coney Island, NY. It was a busy household with five children—in addition to Seymour, there were three sisters, Rosalind, Gloria and Rhoda—but Stanley made time to grow plants and raise pigeons on rooftops. This was one hobby put to good use when he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving overseas in the Army Pigeon Corp during World War II. During his military service in Austria, he met his future wife Maria and brought her home to the U.S. Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Mehr enjoyed a 65-year marriage, until Maria’s death in 2010. 

After receiving a degree in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin, he worked for the soil conservation service, teaching farmers and young men from the civilian conservation corps about contour farming and other erosion control practices. Just before he joined the army, he volunteered with numerous other young people to help harvest crops as many farmers and farm workers had been called to serve in the war. After the war he helped with the agricultural reconstruction of Europe.

Stanley Mehr is survived by his daughter Julia Mehr, and his sisters Rosalind Krupp of Maplewood, NJ and Rhoda Young of Springfield, VA.

For those who wish to make a memoriam donation, the family suggests the American Farmland Trust, an organization that Mr. Mehr supported throughout his life. A memorial service is being planned for this spring.

This obituary was sent to Patch by Cynthia Young, a family member.

diana bork February 20, 2013 at 09:22 AM
Mr. Mehr's funniest story (and he was not one to say nice things about Patton or other high level officers if they were arrogant or made mistakes) was that, upon arriving in France, Mr. Mehr was told the first shipment of homing pigeons was being brought in from the Signal Pigeon Center,Tidwell, England. Mr. Mehr informed his higher-ups that the pigeons had to be trained in France, not in Tidwell, because, once trained they will always return home. No one listened to him. And so the pigeons arrived, and messages in capsules were affixed to their legs. The higher-ups said "send them eas"t and pointed to the battlefield.. Mr. Mehr said "this isn't going to fly", but he releases the pigeons and they indeed fly ---- back to England. His other sad but true story about serving in battle was that he would send pigeons with questions in the capsules out to the men in the front line, and they messages in the return capsule would often be filled with swear words, because the soldiers were in the trenches in hand-to-hand combat, but Mehr and the pigeon corps were well behind, safe and warm. The returned notes would complain of the cold, the mud, the pain the first-line infantry was experiencing rather than the reconnaissance that was supposed to be sent back in a capsule on the pigeon's legs. And a few choice swear words because they all knew the pigeons were treated better than the soldiers. What a tremendous loss for McLean. RIP Mr. Mehr!
Mafalda Marrocco February 20, 2013 at 02:19 PM
My family has gone to Mr Mehr's since my father came to McLean In 1968. My father, two brothers and their families and I and my family have always stopped for plants and for Mr Mehr's welcome and commraderie. It has been a haven for all if us, in the midst of the urbanization of McLean. The whole community will miss him terribly.
diana bork February 20, 2013 at 05:34 PM
sorry about those typos above. I need computer reading glasses. Mr. Mehr also encouraged all of the other small businesses in McLean. When he told me to purchase something and I was half-way down his dirt road, he yelled after me , "Be sure to buy it at McLean Hardware - it's family run". One Christmas, I was in bed recovering from something and called Zoe to ask about the possibility of delivering a Christmas trees. She said they didn't do it. Next thing I knew there was an enormous Christmas tree from Mr. Mehr in our front hall. And he would not take cash for it. Such a great man. He will be sorely missed.
Shack Pitcher February 21, 2013 at 02:38 PM
Stan! Although we were of different political persuasions I also enjoyed his deep interest in national and local politics. I would offer to drive him to the retiree luncheon and found refreshing the one on one discussions which took place up until about two years ago. When I came to work at USDA in the early 60's we were in the same division and he was happy to help out a newcomer from California. He was devastated by Maria's passing after their extremely long partnership. His flowers have brought much happiness throughout the community.
Randall Murphy February 22, 2013 at 08:27 PM
A great mind lost.........Mr Mehr was a customer of ours for over 30 years. Always enjoyed in engaging in lively conversation with this dear man. My Dad and I had a enormous repsect for Mr Stan. Wonderful family! My heart goes out to Julie, Zoe, and Tshering. I will never forget the advice and good memories from visiting this great little garden in the suburbs! Randall Murphy M & M Foliage Inc


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