Family Mourns Passing of Joseph Sinay
Apr 18, 2012, 01:18 ET
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif., April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Joseph Sinay, the grandson of a man killed in one of the pogroms which roiled Kishinev in the early twentieth century, died on April 16, ninety one years after his birth in Chicago, Illinois. Joe's father, Chaim, as well as his uncle, were taken to Palestine while it was still under Turkish control, moving to the United States shortly after World War I.
Only just two pounds at birth, he grew up in Chicago, where his parents, Chaim and Ella, barely managed to support Joe and his younger brother, Sam. When his father, a skilled tool and dye maker, became ill, Joe became the family breadwinner: at the age of ten he began to work in a pharmacy. Always fascinated by music – he had a wonderful voice – he began his adult life managing the Orrin Tucker band. He wrote songs, one of which, "Pinch Me", reached the Lucky Strike Hit Parade. He spent the early days of World War II working in the shipyards of Northern California, then moved to Los Angeles where he managed Fanchon and Marco movie theatres. He also supplemented his income rehabilitating homes and selling automobiles. Following World War Two, he and his brother Sam pooled their capital, opening a furniture store. This became the nucleus of a chain of stores, R B furniture, a corporation which he took public, moving from the Pacific to the American and eventually to the New York Stock Exchange; no mean achievement for a man whose first bed was a drawer in his family's kitchen.
Joe was a dreamer and a romantic. He not only wrote a song (to the tune of Beethoven's Fur Elise), proposing to his then girlfriend and later wife, Barbara Brown, whom he met while heading a war bonds drive. He convinced Fred Waring to play it on his weekly, national radio program. Barbara accepted in the summer of 1945; two years later, their only child – appropriately named Elise – was born.
Joe was a Renaissance Man: in addition to becoming a leader in the furniture industry, he also developed and sold motels and other properties in the Southwest. He also focused a great amount of energy on Democratic politics and philanthropy. On a local level, he served on the Board of Governors of Cedars Sinai Medical Center and served as Chair of Los Angeles' United Jewish Welfare Fund. He became involved with the Variety Club Charity, serving as the local chapter's President and as its International Chief Barker. A strong supporter of Israel, many of whose leaders he knew and entertained, he served as Western Region President of the American Friends of Hebrew University, as well as on the Board of Governors of Tel Aviv University.
Joe's version of a relaxed retirement included playing gin rummy with his brother every day – without fail – at 3 PM and, in his spare time, developing a sizeable real estate portfolio across the country; from California and Minnesota to Texas and Kansas. Of his many achievements, though, he was most proud of his role as patriarch of an improbable, sprawling family. With Barbara – and later, with his wife Ruth, who predeceased him – he lovingly celebrated the children and grandchildren who came to be known as "grandpa and the girls".
In addition to Elise Sinay Spilker (William Sater), Joe leaves behind a large family: his granddaughters Audrey Spilker Hagar (Eldad) and Joanna Spilker; Nancy Sunkin (Howard) and their daughters Erica and Emma, his brother Sam (Charlotte), as well as countless nieces, cousins, and friends.
SOURCE Joanna Spilker, Granddaughter
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