The night after samm passed away
and full of despair.
I miss my Sammy.
There is a hole in the core of me.
my heart aches
I want to scream at G-d.
Why did that kind, sweet, beautiful man have to suffer so?
I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under me.
I need my Sammy.
He gave my life meaning.
He made me feel secure.
He was my protector–
my dearest, truest friend –
the love of my life.
I feel adrift in the ocean – an ocean of despair. How can I go on living without him?
by Betty Kirshner
By Karen L. Kirshner
My father, Samuel Joseph Kirshner, BBA, JD, was a King among men. He was special, not only because he was a loving, compassionate,unusually generous and supportive father and a devoted, faithful husband and son, brother and uncle….
My father set the bar highest for mere mortal men. He was a superior being with excellent character. He was evolved, brilliant, charming, articulate, and knowledgeable on many and nearly all subjects; certainly law, business, history and current events and sports, especially golf, tennis, football and baseball. He could talk to anyone at their level — whether a custodian, cab driver, doorman or the President of a major corporation, erudite lawyer or famous politician. My father was versatile, creative, and a genius literally and figuratively.
He was a gifted creative writer, editor, journalist and advertising guru, with extraordinary copy and production skills and he taught me how to layout my high school newspaper and how to proofread and edit, when I followed in his footsteps.
He worked well with others, and was not a follower. He was a leader. Being a Leo he took the roar of being King of the Jungle to heart in business. He was a dynamo in law and in advertising and anything else he tried.
Dad suffered throughout his life with a protruding under-bite which affected his digestion and he was plagued with what was labeled ‘Non-tropical sprue’ (and has later been speculated may have been wheat intolerance). He had frequent and severe migraine headaches, after his war years, and he sought various remedies over the course of his lifetime, as well as every kind of fad diet available to him, in his life time battle of the bulging belly. He had bad knees later in life and a bad back after being pushed out the bathroom window by my tiny mother, and dragged to the car, to safety when the house was engulfed in smoke and flames on Thanksgiving night, 1999. It was the traumatic event no one could have anticipated, that changed all of our lives and shortened my father’s chances, (and conversely saved his life, because in the hospital it was discovered he had ‘Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma’ and he was treated and cured).
The first house was built in 1957. I was born the same year my parents, Sam and Betty, moved with my older brother Mark, from Clearview Gardens, Queens, to East Meadow, Long Iland, to the house that was on the same location where I live and took care of Mom in her latter years. It is the only house I have considered my true home.
My spouse spent a great amount of time with us on Long Island, as we’ve been together for more than 23 years. In the late 1990s, I asked her to interview my parents for the record to have an archive of their lives for future generations to know how great they were and the fuller dimension instead of the basic stats one sees in a file or on a tombstone. So little of each individual remains after we depart this earth plane, and it is only what we leave behind in our works and in our connections with others and the memories and photos and videos they have of us, or trinkets and souvenir of our souls, that it seemed imperative that I capture and save the stories and the histories, and essence of my parents’ personalities.
“Elle” interviewed my father on three separate occasions. I had urged her to interview because she is gifted at drawing people out and shares a love of history.
Like my father, and Elle, I have a passion for history. She taught it for more than 30 years, and I did too, at one point, and I’m family archivist -genealogist.
The number one occupation my father desired was to be a history teacher, more likely a history professor. He said he would have been happiest because it was a passion. Instead he was motivated by a turn of events in his father’s experience to become a lawyer, fighting for those who are falsely accused and imprisoned. He was expected to be the next Clarence Darrow, my mother said. Instead he was offered the opportunity to partner in a new advertising firm with a colleague he worked with at an ad agency in Manhattan, while working his way through City College, CUNY, where he graduated at the top of his class with a BBA. He graduated second in his Brooklyn Law School class; the first place belonged to a middle-aged student who unlike my father devoted all of his time to school. My father had parents to help support and a new wife, who quit Hunter College and took up business school studies to work as a secretary and stenographer, for Religious News Services and as research assistant for a prominent Columbia University Psychiatrist, Dr. Abrahamsson, and conducting interview research with serial sex offenders.”Most of them looked harmless,” she said, and then “as part of my job, I looked at the records of the crimes they committed, and I realized I had been in danger.”
“Samm” (his preferred spelling in later years) was a strong and protective husband, father and friend. He was a powerful and charismatic orator. He kept his listeners spellbound. In high school, where Betty visited his newspaper office, as Editor in Chief of the largest High School Newspaper in NYC, and one of the largest in the nation, Sam terrified Betty, and she avoided him when she heard him shouting at one of his editors. Samm was a perfectionist and had no patience for incompetence and irresponsible people working for him. He gave excellence and demanded excellence, as a young award-winning journalist and throughout his leadership in over 60 years in business world.
Samm was a direct descendant of Rabbi Nachman of Breslau, the great mystic founder of a new sect of Chassidism, and teacher, whose prolific writings and wisdom have inspired generations. Rabbi Nachman was the Great Grandson of Baal Shem Tov, the founder of Chassidism. Both men were said to be descendants of Hillel, and Rashi, and from the direct line of King David. It is the Jewish Royal Davidic Dynastic line. There never was a doubt in my mind that my father was of a line of kings. My father exhibited the traits of a great man, intuitive and an “outside the box” creative thinker, man of action, humanitarian, egalitarian, and evolved spiritually. He rejected the Orthodox constraints of his mother’s (B-A-R-O-N) line and lived his life as he chose, in a non-secular, non-judgmental, evolved way.
My father was a courageous d hero. In WW II, he enlisted and was sent to officer’s training camp, and was preparing to become an 82nd Airborne Division Paratrooper. In one of the jumps, he broke a foot and when he was healed, was transferred to the Infantry. A lot of sense that made He didn’t get to complete officer’s training because men were needed to fight in Europe and he was shipped out, where he served at the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium and in major battles with Patton’s Third Army, while serving as Private First Class, Acting Sargent in the 89th Infantry Division. He was the soldier, who while a scout on night duty, was approached by a frantic skinny, dark man speaking in a language he did not recognize and gesturing wildly for him to follow. My father called for backup and he and his men investigated. The man had escaped what they discovered and what he reported to higher ups, it was the first concentration-work camp uncovered in WWII. It was what would become known as Oerdruf. My father was the man with the luck to have encountered the frantic man, key to discovering the first slave camp uncovered, and the courage to call for members of his troop to go with him to investigate. Another soldier might have waved him away. Dad reported the camp discovery to higher ups. All the top generals and officers arrived to see the camp, as his troops liberated it. My father was standing next to General Patton, when the stench and horror overwhelmed him and he vomited on Patton’s boot!
My father told many fascinating stories, all true.Well-read, Samm had broad depth of knowledge, and insight; he was both admired and popular.
I could go on and on about my father, Samuel Joseph Kirshner, born in Altoona, PA, August 7, 1925 to Abe and Rachel (Baron) “KIRSNER” (later changed to “KIRSHNER” with the “H” added by his doting older sister Miriam’s respected teacher)….
Samm made a great impression on multitudes of people in all walks of life during his mere 76 years on earth. He died in at North Shore University Hospital on September 1, 2001, at nearly midnight, surrounded by those who loved him. My mother, sister and I held him as he passed. My last words to him were intended to soothe him. “It’s okay, Dad, you can let go, you don’t need to worry about Mom, I will take care of her. I promise you I will.” Like my father, I kept my word.
I had told him, I would tell his story, because he did not get a chance to complete it. He tinkered at writing his autobiography and his novel, and never had the time to set aside, as a house fire and injuries from it, which included a broken back, and persistent migraine headaches and intestinal ailments plagued his life. At one point he was on approximately 29 medications per day. He fell no more than a foot, in his tiled in-home office, as he reached for a file on a shelf above. The chair rolled out from under him. Crashing to the tile, he was injured and developed a hematoma. Misdiagnosed by by my brother’s doctor,our father was told the hematoma would heal; the blood would re-absorb and he would be fine. False hope proved deadly.
This great man, (the “miracle”) — father, husband, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend , brave soldier, businessman, orator, journalist/writer, creative talent, honest business partner, generous humanitarian and charismatic leader; friend to many, role model (esp. to younger men who admired him and sought his counsel) … This great soul in physical form, had passed from our lives. Samuel Joseph Kirshner, (“Shlema Zundel”) rest in peace. We love you. You are not forgotten…always remembered by the positive impact you made on the many lives you’ve touched.
Hopefully, some parts of the contents of the video-transferred interviews (brilliantly conducted by Eleanor Peters), will keep your memory alive and will kindle new interest in your extraordinary life.
As a proud LEO the Lion was SJK’s symbol. He had a large
collection of Lion themed objects.
SAMUEL JOSEPH KIRSHNER
Significant Main Events
– He was a miracle baby. Born midlife to mother, misdiagnosed as a tumor by Philadelphia doctor Babcock. Altoona’s young Dr. Major disagreed and delivered him at the Altoona Hospital to Rachel (Baron) and Abe Kirsner/Kirshner .
Born: August 7, 1925, Altoona, PA
– In 1940, at 15 years old, moved from Altoona, PA to So. Bronx, NYC.
– Won National HS Newspaper Editor writing contest, with an interview and subsequent article about Frank Sinatra, and was hired to work for George Evans, Sinatra’s PR man.
– Graduated from Bronx’s James Monroe HS, 1943
– Joined the Armed Forces, ca. 1943. Told he had highest IQ on Army test. Selected for officer’s training. Attended training camp for 82nd Airborne, was injured, was transferred to Infantry. Served in WWII Europe in 89th Infantry Division, in Patton’s Third Army.
– After the war was stationed in France, with another division, in the post office; hospitalized in the Army hospital (set up in the hilltop castle in Salzberg, Austria); likely poisoned with contaminated meat, he said. Helped by a compassionate doctor and his army buddies to get onto a ship, where he survived on Coca Cola and Ritz crackers, writing fictitious news stories on the ship’s paper.
– Returned home deathly ill; unrecognized by own mother. Sent to US Army hospital; saved with experimental treatment.
– His case was written up in medical books, as he was cured of pernicious anemia and non-tropical sprue with infusions of Vitamin B12 and Folic Acid. Contributed to saving countless live in future.
– Graduated CCNY with BBA (while employed at Bass Advertising), June 1949.
– Married Betty (daughter of David and Lily of Bronx, NY,) March 11, 1950.
– Graduated Brooklyn Law School, Feb. 1955. Top in class.
– Admitted to practice law in the Supreme Court, 1955.
– First child, Mark G. born 1955. (Update: Mark died in his hotel room of natural causes, Agouza, Egypt at age 61, Dec. 12, 2016).
– Moved to Long Island, to East Meadow, NY 1957,
– Hung a shingle as new attorney.
– 1957, Karen L. was born.
– Started Zam & Kirshner Advertising, Inc. Nov. 1957, originally at 777 7th Ave., Manhattan, NY.
– 1960, Abby J. was born, completing the family.
– 1986, Rachel A. Rothschild 1st grandchild born.
– 1989, Jonathan C. Rothschild, grandson born.
– Received AAAA’s recognition award as successful member agency with the longest running same management team.
– Admitted as a member of Masonic Lodge as a Free Mason with the likes of Pres. George Washington and other great leaders.
– House fire destroyed home, Thanksgiving 1999, causing smoke inhalation and back injury.
– Home built anew on same property 2001.
– Sold Z, K & G to JHLM Advertising and continued working as a consultant with 5-year plan, due to expire December 31, 2001.
– Died, September 1, 2001, (following fall in home office, when reaching for a file and the chair on wheels rolled out from under him. He fell on hard tile floor, developed hematoma, misdiagnosed by son’s doctor; Internal bleeding led to cardiac arrest, in a Nassau County, NY hospital.