ROBERT NAIFEH

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January 1, 1928 - July 25, 2013 OKLAHOMA CITY Robert "Bob" Naifeh passed into the loving hands of his Lord and Savior late Friday evening following a brief illness. His wife, Jeaneen Naifeh, was at his side. Born in Bristow, Oklahoma, Bob was the eldest son of Lebanese immigrant, Zeak Thomas, and Rose Homsey Naifeh. Bob attended Classen High School and The Military Academy of Oklahoma City before enrolling at the University of Oklahoma. He was called to duty in 1950 and served two years in the United States Army - 52nd Airborne Unit at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. In October of 1952, Bob married the love of his life, Jeaneen Eddie Naifeh, of Oklahoma City. The longtime Oklahoma City businessman began his career at the age of 13 when he went to work for Sooner Sales, the wholesale candy and tobacco company that his father founded in 1940. But once Bob learned he could double his pay, he left to go to work for John A. Brown as a shoe salesman at the age of 15. Bob will be remembered best as the face of Central Liquor Company, the wholesale distributing company that he and his father founded in 1959 after the repeal of Prohibition. Central Liquor started in a small warehouse on West Reno with four or five vans to deliver liquor to retail customers. Bob's older sister, Selma, was in charge of helping their father, Zeak, process orders and do the bookkeeping while Bob generated sales and made deliveries. Later, Bob's brother, Franklin Naifeh, would join the family business, and the two would become partners, growing the business into the state's largest wholesale liquor distribution company, which occupies more than 300,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space in its current location and employs over 225 people. In addition to building Central Liquor, Bob was instrumental in starting other businesses, including Sooner Beer (1961), Naifco Oil (2004) and several commercial real estate companies that he ran with his longtime business partner, Gerry Gamble. Bob loved business, but he loved his church and his family even more, especially his seven grandchildren. Bob also loved to travel, and he kept a map of the world on the wall behind his desk. It served as inspiration for the many trips that he and Jeaneen would take over the years to Cuba, South America, Asia, and England, and their favorite, Europe. Bob received an honorary Doctorate Degree in Commercial Science from Oklahoma City University and was inducted into the Meinder's School of Business Hall of Honor. He was a member of the Governor's Round Table and former board member of St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church. Bob served on the Advisory Board for a recent YWCA Capital Campaign, then in 2012, Bob and his wife were Allied Arts Campaign co-chairs, reflecting a lifelong love of charitable giving to arts programs throughout the community. Other charitable involvement included The Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Habitat for Humanity, St. Anthony Hospital, Integris Hospital, the Oklahoma Heart Hospital, The Jim Thorpe Museum and the Jim Thorpe Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, the Hough Ear Institute, the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Beautiful, The Infant Crisis Center, Special Care, and the Gaylord Pickens Heritage Museum. Bob was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Paul; and a sister, Selma Naifeh. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Jeaneen; a sister, Leilah Farha, of Wichita, KS; a brother, Franklin, of Oklahoma City; three sons and one daughter: Bradley and Valerie Naifeh, of Oklahoma City; Stan and Bonnie Naifeh, of Oklahoma City; Greg Naifeh, of Oklahoma City; and Darren and Jenee Lister, of Oklahoma City. He is also survived by seven grandchildren: Nicole Tobin and her husband Oliver, and Kyle, Megan, Max, Annissa, Leigh and Madelyn Naifeh, all of Oklahoma City; and one step-grandson, Dylan Lister, of Oklahoma City. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial contributions be made to the Flowers That Do Not Whither Fund at St. Elijah Antiochian Orthodox Christian Church, 15000 N May Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; or The Robert & Jeaneen Naifeh Student Garden at OCU, 2501 N Blackwelder, Oklahoma City, OK 73106. Visitation of the body will be 1-4 p.m. Sunday, July 28 at Smith-Kernke, 14624 N. May Avenue, Oklahoma City. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Monday, July 29 at St. Elijah Orthodox Antiochian Christian Church.

Funeral Home
Smith & Kernke Funeral Directors
14624 North May Avenue Oklahoma City, OK 73134
(405) 302-0021
Published in The Oklahoman from July 27 to July 28, 2013
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