JACK LUNZER

Obituary
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LUNZER--Jack.

Jack Lunzer passed away at Fairport, his London home, on Sunday, December 18, after a long illness. He was 92. Burial was at Enfield Cemetery, and Shiva is being observed at Fairport. Jack and his beloved late wife Ruth, nee Zipel, were the parents of five daughters: Margaret Rothem, Myra Waiman, Fiona Scharf, Alison Goldberg, and Caroline Landau. Jack had 14 grandchildren and 22 great-grandchildren. He was a man of superb intellect, incredible charm, and extraordinary devotion to the Jewish people. His life was a remarkable adventure from beginning to end. He helped build Spitfire fighter planes in World War II; he fought to break up the DeBeers diamond cartel in Africa; he had close relationships with many African leaders and referred to them as his "brothers"; he served as Honorary Consul of Guinea to the United Kingdom; he was summoned to the White House by President Reagan who sought his advice about certain situations in West Africa; and through his company IDC Ltd., was recognized as a world leader in the industrial diamonds and abrasives industry. However, more important to him than business was his passion for Hebrew printed books and manuscripts. He created the Valmadonna Trust Library, which is recognized by bibliophiles and scholars as the finest collection in the world of Hebrew printed books from the 15th through the 17th century. Jack made items from the collection available to scholars and librarians from all corners of the Jewish and non-Jewish worlds, and he readily shared with them his encyclopedic knowledge. Jack was also a true baal tzedakah. His philanthropy to all Jews in need, Jewish educational and cultural institutions, and synagogues was extraordinarily generous, and all who came to Fairport seeking help received it. Jack never sought recognition for his generosity. Jack was also a man who spoke many languages and loved to converse with people from Europe, Asia, and Africa in their native tongues. His conversations typically began "Where are you from?", and after the reply, Jack would take over. He had an insatiable curiosity about the world. He often had illustrious guests staying at Fairport, such as Clair Booth Luce, Grace Bumbry, and Shaka Stevens, and they were treated to Jack's charm and hospitality. Traversing multiple countries in his trademark white safari suit, Jack was an adventurer the world doesn't seem to produce anymore; a larger than life man to whom mere words cannot do justice. Now he is resting in peace next to his beloved Ruth, who shared much of his journey, and they are smiling in gratification that all of their daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren lead their lives with adherence to and love for their Jewish faith and heritage. Jack was inspirational to them all, and that is his greatest legacy. Fiona, Michael, William, Andrew, Naomi and Aaron Scharf

Published in The New York Times on Dec. 21, 2016
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