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The Eulogizer: Corporate turnaround specialist, oldest Marine war correspondent

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Eulogizer is a new column (soon-to-be blog) that highlights the life accomplishments of famous and not-so-famous Jews who have passed away recently. Learn about their achievements, honor their memories and celebrate Jewish lives well lived with The Eulogizer. Write to the Eulogizer at eulogizer@jta.org. Read previous columns here.  

Sanford C. Sigoloff, 80, corporate turnaround expert

Sanford C. Sigoloff, a Los Angeles-based turnaround expert nicknamed “Mr. Chapter 11,” who also did what he could for employees when they were fired, died Feb. 19 at 80.

He was credited with leading ailing retailers and even conglomerates out of bankruptcy in the 1970s and 1980s. He called himself the "toughest man in retailing" and "Ming the Merciless," after the Flash Gordon serial villain. 

However, Michael Sitrick, a former executive at a company Sigoloff ran, recalled a generous businessman who sympathized with the workers he had to lay off and employees who had to work long hours."The real irony is anyone who knew Sandy knew he was the antithesis of Ming the Merciless," Sitrick said. "He was very caring. He was very, very compassionate."

Sigoloff was born in St. Louis, where he unknowingly attended nursery school with his future wife, Betty, and graduated from Beverly Hills High School after his family moved to Los Angeles. He graduated from UCLA in 1951 with degrees in physics and chemistry.

His name was put forward in the 1990s as California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, but he apparently withdrew his name after objections from unions.

Sigoloff donated to numerous Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and to Los Angeles area health centers with Jewish roots, City of Hope and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Sigoloff collected antique clocks and Porsches. A 1987 Fortune article, focusing on the year’s “50 most fascinating business people,” said: “When both the cars he entered in an auto show several years ago failed to win, Sanford C. Sigoloff, 56, the chairman of California-based Wickes Cos., worked on them 20 hours a day for a week. In the next show they took first and second places. Says Sigoloff: ‘I’m a goal-oriented perfectionist and a terrible loser.’ He’s the same when it comes to repairing corporate basket cases, a job at which he is an acknowledged champion.”

Irving Schlossenberg, 92, oldest Marine combat correspondent

Irving Schlossenberg, the oldest living Marine Corps combat correspondent at the time of his death, and a newspaper photographer who once goaded President Franklin Roosevelt at a baseball Opening Day, died Feb. 13 at 92 in Overland Park, Kansas.

Schlossenberg rejected his initial 4F classification, underwent foot surgery, and made it into the Marines as a combat correspondent in World War II. He took part in five major campaigns, four of which were first wave landings, was awarded four bronze stars and became a Master Sergeant.

Schlossenberg never received some of the medals he earned for his service, including a Presidential Unit Citation presented to his division for operations in the Battle of Tarawa in November 1943. Last November, his son and nephew obtained the medals, which were delivered two days before Schlossenberg’s death.

Prior to the war, he was a photographer at the Washington Post. On Opening Day of the 1940 baseball season, Schlossenberg convinced FDR to throw out the Opening Pitch a second time, so he could get a better shot. The resulting wild pitch smashed Schlossenberg’s camera.

Schlossenberg was born in Baltimore and raised in Washington. He became a copy boy at the Washington Post and then a photographer. After the war he sold Encyclopedia Britannica and eventually became executive assistant to the company president. He was a founder of Temple Kol Ami in Prairie Village, Kansas.
 

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