Myron Jaffe, 91; businessman, passionate Zionist

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Myron Jaffe, who with his late wife founded Admiral Rental and Sales Co., a successful health equipment and party and event furniture rental business, and who was an early and passionate supporter of Zionism, died Thursday, July 12, 2012, in Princeton, N.J., surrounded by family members. He was 91 and had been in frail heath in recent years.

A lifelong St. Louis resident, Mr. Jaffe was in New Jersey in order to be close to family members there. He had intended to return to St. Louis.

Mr. Jaffe was born in St. Louis on April 4, 1921, the son of Joseph and Mary Fitterman Jaffe. He graduated from Soldan High School and St. Louis University. He met his late wife, Byrnece Jaffe, at a local Zionist youth group party. They married in 1947 and the marriage lasted 57 years, before Mrs. Jaffe died in 2004.

Sanford (Buddy) Lebman, a past president of Congregation Shaare Emeth and a lifelong friend of Mr. Jaffe, recalls that Mr. Jaffe and his wife were “passionate Zionists and strong supporters of the establishment of the State of Israel.”

Mr. Jaffe led a public parade and demonstration on behalf of the creation of Israel back in the post-war mid-1940s, before Israel proclaimed its independence. Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman, Emeritus of Congregation Shaare Emeth, who officiated at Mr. Jaffe’s funeral on Sunday, noted that Mr. Jaffe arranged for an empty casket to be carried during the parade, representing the six million Jews who perished during the Holocaust.

“Who knows if Harry S Truman, the Man from Missouri, who had served as a U.S. Senator and then Vice President, and who as President in 1948, quickly recognized Israel, might have been influenced by this very demonstration?” Stiffman said.

Mr. Jaffe and his wife in 1952 founded the Admiral Rental and Sales Co., with an initial inventory of 10 tables and 100 chairs. The firm grew to become the largest party and event rental company in the St. Louis region. As president of Admiral Rental and Sales, which was located on 10665 Bauer Boulevard, Mr. Jaffe in 1979 received the National Rental Service Association’s Image Award at the association’s annual convention in New Orleans. The firm competed with 4,000 rental-service companies for the award. The firm rented, sold and serviced home health-care equipment and party supplies, including tables and chairs. Mr. Jaffe served as president of the National Rental Service Association.

Mr. and Mrs. Jaffe ran the firm until they retired in 1986. During their career, numerous synagogues and Jewish organizations were among those renting meeting and event equipment from Admiral Rentals, and on some occasions, they donated the furniture without charge.

Mr. Jaffe was also an active member of Congregation Shaare Emeth, serving on its board of directors and as president of the Temple Brotherhood (Men’s Club). He was an early and active supporter of ARZA, the Association of Reform Zionists of America, and served on its national board.

Rabbi Stiffman noted in his eulogy, “Myron would always contact members to remind them to check off the box to support ARZA, which supports the Reform movement, synagogues and rabbis in the State of Israel. Myron loved everything about the State of Israel—except the food. I can recall visiting Israel with Myron and Bernyce and seeing the glow in their eyes at the miracles in the Jewish State, which they had supported for many years. But Myron was not a fan of falafels,” Rabbi Stiffman said.

After his retirement, Mr. Jaffe volunteered as a financial adviser for the Jewish Family & Children’s Service, the Lutheran Family and Children’s Service and the local Better Business Bureau.

Survivors include three daughters, Seva Kramer (Peter) of Princeton, N.J., Naomi Jaffe of Tampa, Fla. and Judith Jaffe of Boston; four grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.

Following the funeral on Sunday at Congregation Shaare Emeth, burial was at the Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery on Ladue Road.

Memorial contributions preferred to the American Technion Society, 55 East 59th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022.