PHOENIX (JTA) – Philanthropist and real estate developer Irving Shuman was found murdered in his office the night of Sept. 2.
Shuman, 84, a former Arizona chairman of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and a former president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, was a Phoenix community leader for nearly 50 years.
Police say Shuman’s body was found inside the offices of Standard Realty and Development Co. in central Phoenix at about 7:15 p.m. The medical examiner said Shuman died of strangulation and blunt force trauma.
Shuman’s vehicle, a 1998 gold Lexus, was missing after the murder. It was found late last week in San Bernardino, Calif., California authorities said, according to news reports. Police did not release any additional details.
“Our investigators are currently conducting interviews surrounding the recovery of the vehicle,” Detective Stacie Derge of the Phoenix Police Department told KPHO TV in Phoenix.
“This is the most shocking news,” said Paradise Valley resident Arnold Smith. “I knew Irv for more than 50 years. He became an integral part of the Jewish community. He was instrumental to building the Jewish federation.”
“I am shocked and deeply saddened to hear that this happened,” said Adam Schwartz, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. “Irv had a deep and tremendous passion for the Jewish community. He was the epitome of a mensch.”
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has known Shuman since 1985. Interviewed by telephone from the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minn., Kyl said he and his wife “are devastated at the news.”
“Irv was indefatigable in his work for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship and was a good friend and supporter of mine,” Kyl said. “My immediate reaction to hearing this terrible news was that the stupid, selfish person who did this had no idea what Irv meant to his friends, his family and to his community, and therefore what he took away from all of us.”
“He gave funds that enabled children to learn and grow through the arts,” said Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, assistant vice president of cultural affairs for Arizona State University. “He was really a gift to this community.”
Jennings-Roggensack said a photograph of Shuman hangs in the lobby of the school’s Gammage Auditorium. “I encourage people to come in to the lobby to reflect and say a prayer for Irv and his family,” she said.
Shuman was the recipient of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, as well as a Man of the Year Award from the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center.
In 2005, Shuman received the Dorothy Pickelner Enduring Legacy Award from the Arizona Jewish Historical Society to honor his contributions to the Jewish community.
“Irv always set the example for the kind of philanthropy that makes our community work,” said Larry Bell, executive director of the Arizona Jewish Historical Society.
Shuman moved to Arizona in 1960. He is survived by his companion, Theresa, two daughters, a son, six grandchildren, four great-grandchildren and a nephew.
Funeral services were held for Shuman last Friday at Beth El Congregation in Phoenix.
(Debra Morton Gelbart is a contributing writer to Jewish News of Greater Phoenix.)