Morris Zysblat

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Morris Zysblat died|after living a full life

Morris Zysblat, a retired clothing executive who stayed astonishingly young of mind and spirit as he neared 100, died Monday, six days after voting for President Obama, his daughter presumes and three months short of his goal of joining the centenarian ranks.

The German-born Mr. Zysblat stopped working in his late 50s after a well-traveled career as exclusive distributor of Levi Strauss products in West Germany and France. Over the next four decades he kept busy in myriad ways. Chief among those were tinkering with computers, playing the stock market and reading voraciously.

After his wife, Joan, died in 1995, Mr. Zysblat moved from Fair Lawn to the Classic Residence by Hyatt, now called Five Star Premier Residences of Teaneck. He basked in the limelight there, and not because his name happened to be the last one in the local White Pages.

Just past his 88th birthday, the natty retiree modeled a $2,675 suit jacket (with a pink pocket square) and a $495 striped shirt in a New York Times Magazine men's fashion supplement. The feature was titled "Lads and Their Pads," and Mr. Zysblat was by far the oldest of the unattached men photographed in their homes.

The fashion spread made him a celebrity at the senior residence and led to an appearance on CNBC. He was interviewed about his day-trading hobby, which kept him glued to the computer and tuned to the cable channel.

"I can only trade when the market fluctuates," he said on "Squawk Box," the network's morning program. "I cannot trade when it goes straight up. You can't because straight up, I can't buy anything and sell anything, right?"

Mr. Zysblat credited the snap buy-and-sell decisions with keeping his mind sharp.

"I'm probably more alert than when I was at 50," he told The Record. "You have to make decisions every minute, and that's important at my age."

The Record revisited Mr. Zysblat when he was 98 for a story about senior citizens bent on reaching 100. He was no longer buying and selling stocks; he had moved on to precious metals. He had given up reading books in traditional form and was devouring three titles a week on his Kindle. And he was eating whatever he wanted. Inside his fridge were pastrami, hot dogs and a salami.

Mr. Zysblat stopped financial trading this spring, and an aide began staying with him three weeks ago, said his daughter, Claire Beslow.

He soldiered through four days of no electricity after superstorm Sandy, and on Election Day cast his ballot at the Pomander Walk cq senior residence. Picking a president was the last decision in a long and eventful life. The next day, Mr. Zysblat's legs gave out from under him and he entered Holy Name Medical Center.

Beslow said her family feels blessed to have had a wise and vital father and grandfather for so long.

"We've had him all this time, in full mind it's unbelievable," she said Wednesday, before the funeral at Louis Suburban Chapel in Fair Lawn. "The grandchildren are probably taking this harder than my brother and I."

To Robin Granat, executive director of the Five Star Premier Residences, Mr. Zysblat was a poster boy for successful aging.

"Morris would probably say genetics got him to 99, and he'd probably be right," she said. "But I have to say I never met anybody who just didn't sweat the small stuff."

Granat added that Mr. Zysblat "took life as it came." And life wasn't always easy, as he and his family fled Nazi Germany months before Kristallnacht, the orchestrated destruction of Jewish homes and businesses.

Mr. Zysblat, who would have turned 100 on Feb. 20, was looking forward to the birth of his first great-grandchildren twins in the spring.

In addition to his daughter, of Oradell, he is survived by his son, William, of New York City, and four grandchildren.

Morris Zysblat also leaves 53 Facebook friends.

Email: levin@northjersey.com
Published in The Record on Nov. 15, 2012
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