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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

Henry Lane Hull

For well over a century, in Washington, D.C., the standard of excellence for ladies’ fine apparel was the firm of Rizik Brothers. The company was founded by two brothers who came to this country from Lebanon and settled in the nation’s capital.

For the many years of the firm’s existence, until it closed in 2021, it occupied the second floor of a spectacular building on Connecticut Avenue, Northwest, designed by the late Chloethiel Woodard Smith, the legendary architect of many of Washington’s iconic buildings of the 20th century.

C. W. Smith was among the first women architects to become a member of the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows. All of her buildings exhibit a refined dignity and welcoming ambience. The spectacular entry to Rizik Brothers was via an enclosed corner escalator from ground level to the south of the main structure. Driving up the avenue, one could not help but gaze at it.

Rizik Brothers was a true family business, conducted first by the firm’s founders and subsequently by their children. For much of that time the operation was under the direction of Maxine Rizik Tanous, whose father and uncle had been the firm’s founders.   

Maxine was born and raised in Washington. She graduated from Georgetown Visitation Junior College and from Marymount College in Tarrytown, N.Y. She was an extraordinarily acute businesswoman, one who understood markets and tastes, and how to merge the two into a great business. The political and the business communities of Washington respected her knowledge and integrity, flocking to Rizik’s for the finest attire to be had anywhere.

Over the 117 years of its existence, Rizik’s was the epitome of high style and fashion for the political and social world that revolved around Washington. Maxine and her husband, Peter, a retired U.S. Army colonel who had graduated from West Point in 1941, lived in Bethesda, Md., but for over 30 years on weekends and vacations their family came to Irvington, to their home on Carter Creek. Peter’s nephew and namesake, Peter J. Tanous, is the founder of Lynx Investments Advisory and the best-selling author of numerous books that critique the American economy.

At their cottage getaway, in a world apart from the pressures of the city, Maxine and Peter enjoyed the pursuits of country living, particularly in the realm of horticulture, fostering an extensive display of gardenias arrayed in large terra cotta urns, thereby bringing the yard up on the deck. In spring and early summer, the fragrances of the plants are captivating. Her plants and gardens were Maxine’s life away from Washington and her accomplishments in the realm of gardening complemented her achievements in the business world.

Maxine’s mercantile acumen and success were coupled with a deep concern for those less fortunate and she generously and eagerly gave of herself and her talents to help those in need. One of her good friends, the late Jane Gude, the wife of former Maryland Congressman Gilbert Gude, often spoke of her admiration for Maxine and her kindness to others. Throughout her lifetime, Maxine was a true Christian lady.

Peter died in 2003 and thereafter Maxine continued bilocating between Bethesda and Irvington. Last December, at the age of 95, she died peacefully in her home in Bethesda, greatly beloved and admired by her business associates as one who mirrored the best of their profession and by her friends in the Northern Neck who claimed her as one of their own.

Maxine Rizik Tanous March 28, 1928 – December 13, 2023. R.I.P.

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