Cover photo for Arthur Schiff's Obituary
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1925 Arthur 2017

Arthur Schiff

October 4, 1925 — August 6, 2017

Brevard, North Carolina

Arthur Schiff 10/04/1925 - 08/06/17.

Long-time Brevard resident Arthur Schiff passed away unexpectedly on Sunday August 6, 2017. Born in 1925 in the Bronx, New York, Mr. Schiff attended James Monroe High School and studied at New York University. In 1944, he became a reporter for the New York Post, at the time being one of the youngest reporters working for a major New York paper. Mr. Schiff started as a Copy Boy but was quickly promoted to general assignment reporter and then feature writer and rewriteman. There are photos of Mr. Schiff during this time with President Truman, interviewing him, as they walked down the street. In 1956, Mr. Schiff and Robert Dain opened Dain-Schiff Inc, a picture framing business located on Madison Ave. in Manhattan. Here Mr. Schiff served as a consultant to museums, galleries, and individual fine-art collectors - designing the perfect frame for the art piece and then having his craftsmen create the frame. In 1961, he opened 'Tote-A-Treat' sandwich/deli restaurants "Home of the Happy Sandwich" in several locations in New York City. Although the restaurants were an economic success, Mr. Schiff was restless for something more. In July of 1963, he joined the Peace Corps, first working as a consultant in Washington, DC, and then in October of that same year he was posted to Monrovia, Liberia, and later to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - serving as the Assistant Representative in both posts. His primary responsibility was logistical and financial support of more than 350 Peace Corps Volunteers in Liberia and over 650 Volunteers in Ethiopia. In 1965, when his two years with the Peace Corps was up, he returned to the United States, and in 1966 took a position as Administrative Officer with the Ford Foundation, supporting their activities in East and West Africa. Mr. Schiff was responsible for developing and deploying systems for all basic administrative and financial functions, responsible for the logistical support for 65 Ford Foundation families spread over 5 countries. He was first posted to Nigeria and then later to Kenya. In 1969, he moved the Schiff family to Sydney, Australia, and opened a wholesale distribution business specializing in welding supplies. After a successful 17 years running his business in Australia, Mr. Schiff and his wife, Rita, returned to the United States and retired near the city of Phoenix, Arizona. In the early 1980's Arthur and Rita visited Brevard, NC. Impressed by the beautiful scenery and friendly people, they left Sun Lakes and made Brevard their home, first in Glen Cannon, then Connestee Falls and most recently in Deer Lake Village. Mr. Schiff is survived by Rita, his wife of 64 years, his daughters Joan Axthelm (David) of Weston, Florida, and Lisa Schiff-Dobson, of Forster, NSW, Australia, grandchildren Azaria Jane Munro, (Andrew Munro), and William Dobson, and great-grandchildren James Arthur Munro and Lachlan Munro. He is also survived by his brother Jay as well as his sister-in-law Julia Schiff (Bennett Schiff (deceased)). He was also pre-deceased by his sister Gloria Bassuk (Hal Bassuk. There are numerous nieces and nephews who are also part of his surviving family.

The above contains standard obituary items and tells the hard and fast facts about my father. It also captures how smart he was - seen in his ability to successfully carry out multiple jobs (diverse in type) and to create and nurture multiple successful businesses. What it does not tell you though, are all the wonderful things about my father, the person. His essence. My father was a great man, a noble man, a gentleman, a gentle man. He was kind, courteous, polite and had a smile that spread across his face while his eyes twinkled with delight. He had a wonderful dry and clever sense of humor that made one laugh out loud. He loved books - always having a book in hand or close by. He loved movies and theatre and ballet, the symphony and art. He loved to travel and explore and learn new things. He took joy in small things - like feeling the cloth of an article of clothing while appreciating how well it was made, or the taste of a fine glass of wine. He was incredibly well grounded - always in touch with reality, never exaggerating - so his advice was always good and you knew you could run with it. He was a great story teller and he sure had stories to tell - most of which were based on his extraordinary life and unique experiences. He loved dogs and he loved children. He loved my mother. He loved my sister and his grand-daughter and her husband and her children. He loved my husband. And he loved me - he always, without fail, let me know that. When we talked on the phone he would say that hearing my voice was enough that just even a minute made him happy. There are so many moments that I remember about my Dad that show the essence of him. I could write a book but will content myself with just sharing a few that really meant a lot to me. When I was 4 years old he took me to see the movie the Music Man. We came home and I maintained that at the end, if we saw the movie again, the band members clothes would NOT change into uniforms. He took me 6 more times so that I could see that they did. I loved watching any Marx Brothers film or It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World with him - not to watch the movie but to watch him laugh - deep belly with tears streaming down your face laughter - laughter from your core, wonderful laughter. In the early 70's he would wear an African bronze medallion strung on leather around his turtle neck shirt and joke that he was a "Teenage Idol", which made my sister and I squeal with horror (and delight!). He could not sing, but that did not stop him from belting out "Sweet Caroline" or "Till There Was You" or other such songs. He took great delight in life and living it. And that was a gift. A gift for me. A gift to help me through this very difficult time. Because when I was 17 and having a difficult time dealing with the fact that my Dad might someday die - he started sitting me down and telling me that he had lived a great life, and if he died tomorrow then he had no regrets, and that he was fine with it, and that I should celebrate that he lived and loved his life, and was ok with passing on. We had this talk every year or so - for 43 years. For the first 20 or so years I would sob and sob, for the next 10 years I would just cry and now for the last 10 I have learned to accept that he really believed this and that he really felt he had lived a good life, and that I needed to do what he said - raise a glass high and celebrate his life. But he did have one very important wish - he wanted to go to sleep and not wake up. I am pleased to say that my father lived 91 years and 10 months - fully and well. He read and drove and ate and drank and laughed - living in his own house with Mom, never needing assistance. And then on Friday August 5th, after a good and happy day, he went to sleep and never "woke up". It was about 20 hours after going to the Emergency Room that he passed. So my father was even able to die the way he wanted to die. It was a good life and a long life, lived by a wonderful man - a man that I often described to others as "a good human being". Dad will be desperately missed by many, many people. He will be desperately missed by me. And we are raising our glasses, every night since, and celebrating this life well lived.

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