Sunday, Apr 30, 2017
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Irwin S. “Irky” Rosenbloom (1930-2017): Book binder was pioneer in fight against disease

Irwin S. “Irky” Rosenbloom, owner of a Toledo book-binding firm, who joined his late wife, Paula, as local pioneers in urging parents to be tested for a gene that could lead to a fatal disease in their children, died April 14 in Delray Medical Center, Delray Beach, Fla. He was 86.

He’d been dealing with a series of medical complications over several months, his daughter, Cathy, said. He and Rochelle Russell, his companion and significant other, spent winters in Florida, but illness kept him from returning this year to his home in Sylvania Township.

Mr. Rosenbloom had worked at the family optical company in his native Rochester, N.Y. He his wife, Paula, and their children moved in 1959 to his wife’s hometown of Toledo.

He worked for Bell Binders and then bought another local commercial bookbinding firm with a dollar and a handshake as his assurance to the former owners that he would pay the agreed-upon price, his daughter said. He kept his promises, often sealed with a handshake, she said.

“He expected that of others,” his daughter said.

Mr. Rosenbloom’s Commercial Bindery Inc. won business from Toledo’s largest corporations, which issued annual reports, advertising proposals, and other printed matter that needed to be turned into a final, bound product.

“He had a huge work ethic and knew business,” his daughter said.

He retired when his son, Jeff, bought Commercial Bindery in 1993.

The Rosenblooms’ two youngest daughters died of Tay-Sachs disease; Bobbi at age 2 in 1965 and Amy at 17 months old in 1968. The hereditary disease occurs mostly in children of central and eastern European Jewish heritage.

The first meeting of a coalition to educate the community about the need for mass screening took place in the Rosenbloom home. Mrs. Rosenbloom “lectured at MCO, she lectured to every Jewish organization she could find,” her husband told The Blade in 1997 after her death. “When our children died, there was no test available. She carried her message wherever she could about testing and how important it is.”

He worked behind the scenes as the Toledo Coalition for Tay-Sachs Prevention was formed in the 1970s, his daughter said. He also was active on the board of the National Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association, the March of Dimes, and what is now Sunshine Communities.

“It was a way of turning something that was so sad and tragic and remained a loss throughout his life into something positive,” his daughter said.

He was born Dec. 22, 1930, in Rochester, N.Y., to Bessie and Rufus Rosenbloom. He attended the Manlius School, a military academy, but graduated from a public high school in Rochester. He attended Brandeis University and received a bachelor of science degree in business administration from the University of Rochester.

He was an Army veteran and served as a radio operator in Alaska during the Korean War. A friend from Rochester was attending the University of Michigan and enlisted another student, Paula Goldberg of Toledo, to write letters to Mr. Rosenbloom. They “fell in love writing letters for a year,” their daughter said. They met when he was on leave.

“He told her she was going to marry him. She must have agreed,” their daughter said.

The couple married married June 19, 1955. She died Oct. 1, 1997. The couple were members of Congregation B’nai Israel, where Mrs. Rosenbloom’s father, Morton Goldberg, was rabbi.

Surviving are his daughter, Cathy Rozenberg; son, Jeff Rosenbloom; sister, Barbara Movsky; five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. today in the Robert H. Wick/​Wisniewski Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the American Cancer Society, Tay-Sachs and Allied Diseases Association, or the charity of the donor’s choice.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: mzaborney@theblade.com or 419-724-6182.

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