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WARREN - Morris Friedman passed away late Friday afternoon on Feb. 17, 2017, at St. Elizabeth Health Center in Youngstown. He was 97.
Mr. Friedman was born on Oct. 20, 1919, in Vapenik, Czechoslovakia, the son of Abraham and Sarah Friedman. He was one of eight children, including four sisters and three brothers, all of whom are deceased.
When he was 15 years old, Morris fled the impending Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia and came to the United States in 1934. His parents and two younger brothers would later die in the Nazi concentration camps.
In the United States, Morris lived with relatives in the Bronx, N.Y., worked at his uncles neighborhood grocery store and went to night school to learn English and to study and earn his American citizenship. He moved to Cleveland a year later, where he worked at a steel warehouse and fabricator owned by his uncles.
Morrie served his country in an Army tank division during World War II, volunteering to go overseas and into harms way when he couldve remained stateside, safe and sound.
Upon returning home, Morris married the love of his life, Phyllis Kaiser, on Aug. 19, 1945. It was a beautiful love affair that lasted for 71 years. After the war, Morris and Phyllis established a home in Warren, and he returned to the steel business.
Morris worked his way up the ladder, from message boy to metal worker to supervisor, then into the managerial ranks, rising to become company president of Allied Metals in Niles, and then, in 1968, founded his own company, United Steel Service, also known as Uniserv, in Brookfield. Under Morriss leadership, the company became one of the nations largest steel-slitting plants.
Nobody knew the steel business like Morrie Friedman. He could look at a piece of steel from 100 yards away and tell exactly where it was made, what mill it came from, and the gauge. He was a tough but honest businessman, earning the respect and admiration of his employees as well as his peers in the American steel industry. He earned himself a national reputation, and was invited to play golf at Augusta National Country Club, home of the Masters, by the president of US Steel, the largest steel company in the country in its day. He also played golf with Arnold Palmer.
Morrie Friedman was the epitome of the American success story. He came to this country with little more than the shirt on his back and ended up living the American dream. His book Morrie: Only In America, co-written with his son, Steven, was published in 2014, and is currently available through Amazon.
Morrie never forgot where he came from and wanted to share his success by giving back to the community. He and Phyllis donated $2.5 million to establish an Engineering chair at Youngstown State University. He also established the Stroke Trauma unit at St. Elizabeth Health Center where, ironically, he ended up spending his final hours.
Morris Friedman gave money to an untold number of hospitals, organizations, causes and charities that he believed strongly in. He changed the lives of those who were fortunate enough to be recipients of his generosity. And he did all of it quietly and without fanfare, never wanting to call attention to himself. Morris Friedman was among the most humble people you would ever want to meet. He was a proud Jew, and an ardent supporter of the State of Israel, both spiritually and financially. He also was a big contributor to the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation, as well as to the Jewish Federation in Boca Raton, Fla. Morris was a long-standing member and supporter of Rodef Sholom Synagogue in Youngstown.
He was the proud father of his son, Steven, who took over the company business at United Steel Service. He was a wonderful uncle to his many nieces and nephews.
After his beloved wife of 71 years passed away last September, Morrie not only lost the love of his life, but the better part of himself as well. He never recovered from the loss of Phyllis, and surely died of a broken heart.
Morrie Friedman will be missed by all the members of his family whom he loved dearly, his many friends who loved him, and all those whose lives he touched with his wisdom, compassion and generosity.
A private burial was held in Columbus at the New Tifereth Israel Cemetery, on Sunday, Feb. 19.
May this great pioneer, one of the last surviving members of the Greatest Generation, rest in peace.
Steven, the last remaining member of Morriss immediate family, would like to extend his heartfelt gratitude to Lisa Barass, who was his caregiver and took wonderful care of both his parents until their passing, Kim Scott, who assisted Lisa, Atty. Jay Skolnick of Brouse McDowell who not only was Morriss dearest friend, but has so faithfully guided the Friedman family for so many years, Rabbi Frank Muller whose spiritual and most appreciated involvement steadied the family, and finally Mr. Patrick OConnor of OConnor, Hoso & Loree LLC, whose invaluable friendship and financial guidance was so important. All of these people and others, too numerous to mention, should know that they were and still are so greatly appreciated.
Contributions in his memory may be made to Fisher Center for Alzheimers Research Foundation, 110 E. 42nd St., 16th Floor, New York City, NY 10017, (800) 259-4636; Alzheimers Foundation of America, 322 8th Ave., 7th Floor, New York City, NY 10001, (866) 232-8484; or American Diabetes Association, 2451 Crystal Drive, Suite 900, Arlington, VA 22202, (800) DIABETES, or (800) 342-2383.
Please visit www.epsteinmemorial.com to sign the online guestbook.
It's been a long time.
“Steve, So sorry for your loss. John Grazier, Nashville, Tn. ”
» John Grazier on March 2, 2017
I will always remember...
“Steven...I will always remember your dad..he was sharp as a tack, spunky, comical, always could put a smile on my face no matter what kind of day I was having...a true all around wonderful person to be around. I am so so sorry for your great loss of both of your parents...may they live forever in your heart. My prayers are with you my friend....”
» Darlene Becker (Dr Blecher/Nelson office) on March 20, 2017
To A (Great humble man
“Steven, I knew both your father and mother from 20 years as golf pro at Bocaire CC. They were wonderful people who had my total respect. You Dad reached out to me many times after I left the Club. Read his book and proud to call him a friend. My condolences to you and your family. Sincerely Gordy & Luanne Powell”
» Gordy Powell on June 12, 2017