FRIEDMAN--Robert G., of Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and formerly of Tiffin, OH, passed away peacefully in his home, surrounded by his loving family, including his wife of nearly 65 years, Eugenie S. Friedman; granddaughter of Oscar F. Mayer, and their five children, on Monday, March 18, 2013. Bob recently celebrated his 90th birthday, and would have celebrated his 65th wedding anniversary on May 1. Bob Friedman was born on February 6, 1923, to Genevieve (Jane) Mahank and John H. Friedman in Tiffin, OH. He was preceded in death by his sisters, Betty Jane and Rosalie Friedman, and Janie Congdon Stall. Bob was the leader of his own ten-piece jazz band, "The Melodiers," while at Tiffin Columbian High School. Bob attended Case Western Reserve University where he was inducted into The Engineering Honor Society, Tau Beta Pi. Following his graduation from Case with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and attendance at Harvard Business School, Bob served as a Naval Officer aboard the Battleship Texas during World War II. After the war, Bob rose through the ranks of The National Machinery Company (National) in Tiffin, OH and became the President and Chief Executive Officer for almost three decades. During his tenure, National became not only the largest employer in Tiffin, but also the largest global manufacturer of hot and cold forging and forming machinery, capturing 52% of the world market. In 1958, Bob led the acquisition of J.G. Kayser Company in Nuremberg, Germany, establishing manufacturing and distribution for National in Europe. He also negotiated contracts with the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, Fiat Motor Company in Italy, and Pratt & Whitney. Bob invented and received a patent for the first machine to stamp a seamless aluminum can as well as for the manufacture of the blades and buckets for jet engines. Under his leadership, National achieved widespread industry recognition and success as an early pioneer of profit-sharing, employee stock ownership and productivity bonus programs. During the past 43 years he maintained a deep and abiding love for those who had worked with him. Following his work at National the family relocated to Ft. Lauderdale, FL where stock portfolio analysis and management were his passion. Bob became the founding investor and served for over twenty years as Chairman of the Board of Direct Supply, Inc., the nation's largest supplier to the long term care industry. Bob also pursued composition of music and lyrics for over 100 songs which were performed or arranged by jazz greats including Joe Williams, Ray Brown, Louie Belson, Lou Rawls, Benny Carter, Ernestine Anderson, Marian McPartland, Carmen McRae, Billy May, Matty Matlock, Flip Phillips, Johnny Mercer and Quincy Jones, with many of whom he also developed lasting friendships. Joe Williams performed Bob's songs on "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson," and Quincy Jones included one of Bob's songs, "A Tribute to Benny Carter," in his "Best of Quincy Jones" album. His music has been performed by the Milwaukee and Jacksonville Symphonies and also by the award-winning University of Miami Jazz Band. He was inducted into the Big Band Hall of Fame in Palm Beach, FL in 1992. Bob was most proud of his first song for his wife, "Serenade to Genie," and the five songs he wrote for each of his children, "Betty," "Jenny," "Mary," "Jane" and "Bobby.â€ Bob and Genie believed themselves to have been blessed, and that with these successes came both the privilege and the obligation to share. Through The Robert G. Friedman Foundation, Bob and Genie shared their blessings with many, including the Institute for Civic Involvement at Pine Crest School, Holy Cross Hospital, Smith College, Northwestern University and Curious Kids Museum. Bob was first and foremost a devoted husband; father and friend, whose loyalty and love were unsurpassed. Says his son, Robert T. Friedman, "My Dad's many accomplishments are an inspiration to us all and his most enduring gift is the love he gave so freely and deeply to our family." Bob Friedman is survived by his wife, Eugenie Steuer Friedman, and his children, Robert Taft Friedman of Chicago, IL, Elizabeth (Daniel) O'Connor of Fort Lauderdale, FL, Jennifer (Robert) Hillis of Milwaukee, WI, Mary (Douglas) Baske of Fort Lauderdale, FL, and Jane (Robert) Anspach of Perrysburg, OH; fifteen grandchildren (Eugenie (Kahlil) O'Connor, Elizabeth (Chris) Elsbury, Danny (Solidea) O'Connor, Catherine (Sean) Hough, Genevieve (Brian) Hillis, Bobby Hillis, Alison (Vance) Wiese, Adam (Abby) Baske, Emily (Fletcher) Reeves, Michael Anspach, Bobby Anspach, John Anspach, James Friedman, Will Friedman and Mary Friedman) and seven great-grandchildren (Jackson and Evelyn Reeves, Ava Wiese, Jack and Patrick Elsbury, Connor Hough and Elisa O'Connor). Bob Friedman's legacy is best summarized by his own words, as embodied in his song, "God Bless You:" God Bless You, with peace of mind. And help you see the thrill of being kind. God give you your faith again, And help you see the good in other men. And so will those who knew and loved him, will remember him. The family wishes to extend its love and eternal thanks to Dr. Joel Gellman for his extraordinary care of Bob. And to Marta Bosch, whose many years of friendship and devotion deserve the most heartfelt thanks. Finally, to all of Bob's wonderful caregivers, Rick Shaw, Elva Hodzic, Karen Wirkus, Antonia Antunez, Nuno Hodzic and Mark Alexander, the family extends its undying gratitude. Visitation will be at Fred Hunter Funeral Home, 718 South Federal Highway, on Sunday, March 24th from 4-6pm, with Funeral Mass to be held at St. Anthony's Church on Monday, March 25th at 10am. In lieu of flowers, donations can be sent to the
or the Gold Coast Jazz Society.
Published in The New York Times on Mar. 23, 2013
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