Edwin Sperber,a true modern day pioneer, passed on July 5, 2020 holding hands with his loving family at his home in Albany at the age of 98 years young. Certainly best known for making the art of selling household goods into a household name when he opened the first Huck Finn Pottery Store, with his brother Bob, in 1963 on Western Ave in Albany. He was a creative genius naming the business Huck Finn because it was located next to the Tom Sawyer Motel. He went on to open another 25 stores in NY,NJ,Conn and Mass, culminating in the creation of the Warehouse at Huck Finn along with his two sons.
He was born in 1922 to Samuel and Elizabeth Sperber.He admirably served in the US Army during WW II.After the service, he was eager to find a rewarding career to support his sweetheart Rhoda Frank whom he married in 1946.From that day on she was his partner, confidant and biggest supporter in every single venture. In 1951,he met Harold Lansing, who owned a china and glass store in downtown Albany. The business desperately needed a new direction and received it when the brash 29 year old came on board.Sperber eventually purchased the business from Mr Lansing and moved it to No Pearl St in the heart of the retail core. The marketing concepts that he employed to make Lansing Brothers the most well-known Bridal Registry store in NYS,range from bringing the French Council General to town to help sell Haviland china to putting a Ford Motor Car on 4 tea cups in the stores signature plate glass window.
In the 60’s,he was appointed by Mayor Corning to lead the Downtown Albany Merchants Association and became known to all as ,Mr Downtown.He was then selected by Governor Nelson Rockefeller to be an integral part of the development of the Empire State Plaza. He served too many community boards to mention, starting with the Chamber of Commerce, Albany Parking Authority,NYS Retail Council as well as a plethora of health and human service organizations.
Ed would tell you his greatest lifetime accomplishment was donating a kidney to his 20 year old daughter Barbara long before the procedure was ever attempted in Albany. As a result of the wonderful success of that procedure,he and Rhoda went on to create the area’s chapter of the Northeast Kidney Foundation so that others afflicted with kidney disease would always have the resources that weren’t available to his family at a time of desperation and need. For over 50 years,NKFof NENY has admirably filled that void.
He is survived by Barbara and husband Jim Wittorff of Milford,Mass,who live everyday knowing that kidney saved her life. His sons Jeffrey and wife Charlotte of Voorheesville and Reid and wife Susan of Slingerlands. He would also say it was a lifelong dream of his to have his two sons work by his side to build a business that he was so proud to brag about.
And of course his precious grandchildren Jennifer,Stacey,Bryan and Stephanie ,Lauren, Ashley and Marco,Kate and Danny,Jordan and his great grandchildren Kane,Brody,Mateo,Henry and Oliver....the lights of his life.
For the last 15 years ,Ed was blessed to spend every single day with his loving companion, Florence Speigel.Together they made the age of 90 look like 50.Florence introduced Ed to a whole new world,for which the entire Sperber family will be eternally grateful.as we are to the family of Flo's children Cindy and Neal...there are so many people that so deserve to be thanked for their contributions to Ed’s life that it’s just an impossible task. But it’s mandatory to mention Steve Vanderwarker,who has worked with Ed for 40 years and was always like a third son in the business. All of his close buddies at Colonie Country Club where he enjoyed golf because of the people he played it with. And with heartfelt gratitude to Evie, Kayla and Jose who devoted themselves around the clock to insure his peace comfort and dignity that he so proudly displayed every single day of his 98 years.
Services and interment will be private at the Beth Emeth Cemetery in Loudonville, NY. Those wishing to remember Ed in a special way may make a memorial contribution to the National Kidney Foundation, 22 Colvin Avenue Albany, New York 12206
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