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Charles Leo Wurtzburger

1926 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Charles Leo Wurtzburger Obituary
Charles Leo Wurtzburger

Memphis, TN

Born July 10, 1926 in Memphis, Tennessee to Leo Charles Wurtzburger and Julia "Dolly" Plough Wurtzburger. He attended normal training, Fairview Junior High, and graduated from Central High in 1944. He then went to the University of Michigan and graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History.

Charles went to work with his father in 1948 at Acme Paper Company, which his Dad started in 1942. This company in 1952 became Memphis Converting Company and then Cleo Wrap Corporation. It had three moves each to larger facilities, all in Memphis. Cleo Wrap Corporation then built its own plant in the Airport Industrial Park. During that time (1963 – 1975), it also became the largest manufacturing employer in Memphis as well as occupying over 2 million square feet of space. He served as founder and president of Cleo Wrap for over 25 years, 10 of which was after the acquisition of the company in December 1964 by C.I.T. Financial Corporation. He further served on the board of Gibson Greeting Cards in Cincinnati, OH, which was also acquired by C.I.T in 1964. Cleo Wrap became the largest manufacturer of Christmas gift wrap in the U.S. After retiring actively from Cleo, he continued as a consultant to the company until 1990. When Charles retired from active management of Cleo Wrap in 1977, he started another Christmas business. This in no way was a conflict with Cleo and it was approved by C.I.T. as requested by Charles. The company was Décor Noel, a manufacturer of Christmas garland and "icicles." This began manufacturing in 1978 after acquiring machinery from its West German partner. It was subsequently sold in 1983 after a successful run as an industry leader.

He also was involved with Catherine Stout Shops as a director of a tremendously successful retailer, based in Memphis, founded, and run by Ralph Levy, Jr.

His other business love was property he and some other investors acquired in 1967 at Forest Hill-Irene and Winchester. He managed this remote cotton field into what has become a thriving office park, which they have sold to developers and users over the years.

Being a lifelong Memphian, Charles believed in supporting the City's worthy causes, both charitable as well as the Arts. His activities included serving on the board of the Dixon Gallery and Gardens and the Hugo Dixon Trust for 25 years. He served until finally retiring when he was 80. Charles also served as one of five founding members of the Memphis Food Bank as well as a director of LeBonheur Children's Hospital in the 1970's. Charles and his wife, Mary, were one of the early families to set up a "donor directed" fund as part of the Greater Memphis Community Foundation in 1978. In 2007, they received the Crystal Award as the Outstanding Philanthropist. This award is given annually to the individual or family with a proven record of exceptional generosity and commitment to philanthropy.

In addition to his civic and charitable involvement he was a lifelong member of Temple Israel, a charter member of Southwind (Tournament Player's Club), and a founding member of the Economics Club. Charles was inducted into the Entrepreneur Club in 1992.

Charles' early activities were baseball and tennis. He coached Little League teams early on and played active tennis until retiring after 4 knee operations. His early idol and inspiration was Lou Gehrig, the "Iron Horse" of baseball, whose lifestyle exemplified what Charles hoped to be.

"It's Wonderful" was not only the saying Charles used to describe his life, but was also the name of the auto-biography which he wrote primarily for his children and grandchildren. His life could be summarized by this book, which he wrote in 2008 about his life and his two loves: his wife, Mary, and their marriage of 65 years and the growth of the business, which his Dad started for him in 1942.

Charles is survived by his wife, Mary as well as three children; Amy Wurtzburger and Pravin Soni of Sunnyvale, CA, Leo and Eve Wurtzburger of Germantown, NY, and Wendy and Chris Bentley of Philadelphia, PA. Three granddaughters, Nisha and Anjali Soni, and Gabi Thoreau, and two grandsons, Charles and Robin Bentley. He also leaves his beloved West Highland terrier, Cleo. This was the 8th Westie in his life. The 7 other dogs were male and named Mr. Chips.

Funeral services will be 10:30 a.m. Monday, August 13 in the Levy-Cooper Chapel at Temple Israel Cemetery.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Church Health Center, LeBonheur Hospital, Temple Israel, Dixon Garden and Galleries or the non-profit of your choice.
Published in The Commercial Appeal from Aug. 11 to Aug. 12, 2018
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