David Balk
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David Balk

BALK: David Balk accomplished a great deal throughout his 91 years. He became a star athlete, a soldier, a business owner, an expert stock broker, an amateur philosopher, a father, and doting grandfather. But his greatest accomplishment, he would say, was his ability to live a life of gratitude. “He was grateful for every day,” his younger son Harold Balk (Ingrid) said. “He was thankful for his family and his station in life. However, he was just as appreciative for the simple things in life like the changing of seasons or the smile shown from a caregiver.” David was raised in the small mining village of Coverdale (now Bethel Park) where his parents owned and operated a small general store during the Depression. Being the oldest and a natural leader, David helped nurture and mold his four younger brothers and one sister. At the age of 11 the family moved to Squirrel Hill where his father opened a workman’s uniform store in uptown (located where PPG Paints Arena now stands). A gifted athlete, David excelled in basketball, track and baseball. At age 15 he was awarded the prestigious Kiwanis Club Sports Award for the best overall athlete. He also set the pole vault record at Taylor Allderdice which held for over 35 years. Upon graduation, and with WWII combat still broiling, David, against his mother’s wishes, and forgoing a promising baseball career, joined the Army. Fortunately, peace was declared once he completed boot camp and was shipped off to guard Emperor Hirohito in his Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Japan. Although his mother was appreciative of David sending his military pay home to help the family, she was more grateful when he returned home and enrolled at Pitt with the aid of the GI bill. After earning a bachelor’s in physical education, David worked as a clerk for the US postal service. Upon graduation from Pitt he was introduced to Rosalyn Hirsh, a friend of his brother Leizer. Their world-wind romance resulted in marriage soon thereafter. David and his new bride moved to Latrobe, PA where they planned to open a women’s dress shop (The Hollywood Shop) with the help of Roz’s uncle. Due to the uncle’s sudden illness, David was left opening the store by himself. With little retail and business experience, not knowing the difference between a girdle and a goiter, David at first struggled. Fortunately, being a fast learner and with the help of his wife, David soon got the hang of running the operation. Within a few years he was successful enough to open a children’s store as well as another Hollywood Shop in Connellsville, PA. In the early 1970’s David foresaw the bleak future of retail for the small-town merchant. He closed the Latrobe store, sold the Connellsville store and went back to school to become a stockbroker. It was slow going when David first started with Parker and Hunter (acquired by Janney Montgomery Scott in 2005) with Stagflation and the oil crisis, but due to his stellar reputation, honesty and work ethic, he slowly built a loyal client base. David worked well into his 80’s, interminably researching new investment vehicles and companies developing the latest technologies. David may not have fully comprehended IP protocol, but he gained enough insight to steer his clients toward companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Cisco during their nascent years. The family remained in Latrobe into the late 1980s where David would make the daily 2-hour trek to Pittsburgh and back. In his 30 plus years living in Latrobe, David was a very active member of Beth Israel Synagogue where he served in almost every capacity, ensuring the survival of the small congregation. David was also a member of the Elks and the Lion’s clubs and was active in the Latrobe Chamber of Commerce. After his three children left for college, the couple moved from Latrobe to Wilkins Township where David could walk to his brokerage firm. His charmed life was filled with work, which, at this stage, was more of an exciting hobby, and spoiling on his four grandchildren. David and his wife then moved to Concordia of the South Hills in 2017. “My dad was a man of faith. Faith in not only a higher entity, but in human kindness and the innovative spirit,” Balk continued. “He marveled at, and invested in, the newest technologies. He, in fact, built the first all-electric home in the 1950’s in Latrobe.” “My father was a role model extraordinaire,” said his daughter Ellen Balk of Atlanta, Georgia. “He was subtle with his lessons, but always reliably guiding us to make the most moral and courageous of decisions.” In his late 40’s David survived a bout with colon cancer. He attributed his survival to God shining a benevolent light in his direction. From that point on he not only became more pious, but he approached every day with enormous gratitude. He studied the great Rabbinic minds and ruminated on poignant philosophical and ethical questions each day. “He became quite the philosopher in his later years,” said his wife of 65 years Rosalyn. “He meted out wise and thoughtful advice not to just our family, but to anyone, even the care givers in his final months. I think he believed it was his inherent duty to pass on learned wisdom and elevate conversations, even the everyday humdrum conversations, into something meaningful.” David is survived by his son M. Brian Balk(Carol) as well as his two surviving brothers Sam Balk(Hanna) and Dr. Phillip Balk(Bette) and sister Reva Cohen (Henry ‘z). David was blessed with four granddaughters, Dalya Balk, Ellie Balk, Macey Balk and Jessica Balk. David was also blessed with 20 nieces and nephews and many friends that will truly miss his generosity and kindness. Services at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside on Friday, November 29th at 10:30 AM. Visitation one and one half hour prior to services (9 – 10:30 AM). Interment Mount Lebanon Cemetery/Beth El Section. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Jewish Family & Children’s Services, 5743 Bartlett Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Shiva Services will be held at Concordia of the South Hills, 1300 Bower Hill Road on Saturday and Sunday at 7 PM. www.schugar.com

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