SAFYAN: Joseph H. Safyan; Suddenly on Tuesday, January 27, 2015, at age 88. Beloved husband of Martha Printz Safyan for over 63 years. Loving father of Ilene Safyan Rosenberg (Dr. Mark Rosenberg), Dr. Eric Safyan (Dr. Susan Safyan) and Linda Safyan (Dr. Thomas Holber). Brother of the late Madeline (late Harry) Miller, the late Esther Safyan (late Dr. Solomon) Abrams. Cherished grandfather of Arielle and David Rosenberg, Rachael, Michael and Joshua Safyan and Julia, Jessica and Andrea Holber.
Joseph Safyan, the son of Israel and Eva Safyan, was born on July 9, 1926, and was a lifelong Pittsburgher. He grew up on Darlington Road in Squirrel Hill, attended Wightman School, graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School (Class of ’44) and received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1948. At Pitt, he was a member of Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity and a photographer for the university’s yearbook, the Pitt Owl.
He began working at Harry Marcus Company in 1958, became a Certified Kitchen Designer (CKD), and purchased the company in 1961. As president of the newly renamed Marcus Kitchens, Inc., he grew the business into a regional distribution center with a network of over 30 dealers throughout the tri-state area. Joe became a leading manufacturer’s representative for Wood-Mode Cabinetry and Allmilmo among others, and was a distributor for Scheirich cabinets. For nearly 45 years, homes, condominiums, apartment complexes and building developments throughout the region benefited from his designs, commitment to customer service, dedication and business acumen.
Ethical business practices were his priority, and he was known for the warmth and respect he showed everyone. “Anyone who knew Joe will miss him, his humor especially, but also his fundamental decency in all his dealings with people. When you say the word ‘Mensch’ you have said everything Joe embodied and practiced,” relayed Don O’Connor, a former Wood-Mode executive.
He not only had a keen eye for kitchen design but for photography as well and that was a lifelong passion. Through college and shortly after, he had his own studio and was a wedding photographer on the side. Known for his portraiture work and careful hand retouching, he was frequently asked to do the portraits of up and coming stars at Carnegie Mellon University’s drama program. He was able to appreciate the great beauty of life though the lenses of the many cameras he lovingly collected since childhood. He found the greatest beauty of all when he cast his eye on Martha Printz Safyan, the daughter of a Rabbi. Seated next to her at a wedding her father was officiating and Joe was photographing, he knew, in a flash, he had found the love of his life.
Joe loved people and knew instinctively how to put them at ease. He enjoyed learning their stories and was known for the many questions he asked. He had a wonderful, loving personality and the ability to draw out the quiet person, always gently and with authentic curiosity. Known for his warmth and humor, he never forgot a joke and was a great story and joke teller. His stories were shared with a style that revealed the great kindness of his heart. Joe loved music and never forgot the lyrics to a song; he was always the first to start the family singing on long car trips.
Above all, he was committed and devoted to his wife Martha whom he adored and cherished. He fiercely loved his family and they were the great focus of his life. His wife, his children, their spouses, and his grandchildren were ever present in his words and thoughts. Though he lost his own father at an early age, he understood what was essential to being the perfect one. He always made time for his children and grandchildren, was involved and interested in every aspect of their lives, and delighted in showing them the simple joys in life. He was, of all things, a teacher -– forever guiding, advising, and sharing wisdom with sensitivity, kindness, humor and great insight. There are no words to convey the extent to which he will be missed. He will always be adored, cherished, remembered and deeply loved for all that he was, all that he stood for and all that he gave so generously. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
Dedicated to Israel and Jewish organizations, he gave generously throughout his life. He was a lifelong member of Congregation Beth Shalom, where his father was a founder, and a longtime board member of the Hebrew Institute and the Jewish Assistance Fund.
Contributions in his memory may be directed to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Congregation Beth Shalom, Community Day School, Jewish Assistance Fund, Jewish National Fund or one’s charity of choice. Services were held Thursday, January 29 at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Beth Shalom Cemetery. schugar.com.