Sam Wool, founder-owner of General Iron & Steel Co., dies at 105

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

Sam Wool, described by his family as “strong and graceful through all his 105 years,” founder and longtime owner and operator of the General Iron & Steel  Co., died at that age on Monday, Dec. 12.  Mr. Wool was admired for his optimistic outlook on life, his integrity in business and his love for his family.

Sam Wool was born in St. Louis on April 13, 1911, the son of Louis and Frieda Zeid Wool.  Mr. Wool and his father founded General Iron & Steel Co. in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression. He owned and operated the firm for over 50 years. He retired in 1983, after serving his industry as president of the St. Louis Chapter of the Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel, and of the Associated Waste Materials Dealers.

Mr. Wool, considered a visionary in business, was the first, after World War II, to have the foresight to import steel from overseas, bringing it by ship to New Orleans, then loading it onto barges, which then made their way up the Mississippi River to St. Louis.  

In addition to his business and industrial organizational affiliations, Mr. Wool was an active member of the Jewish community.  He was a longtime member of B’nai B’rith and of Congregation B’nai Amoona.  He was also  a member of the Benjamin Franklin Masonic Lodge, and was president of La Beaume Rental Account.

Two of the factors which contributed to Mr. Wool’s long life were his physical activity and his warm sense of humor.  He was an avid golfer—and a good one—until he broke his arm at 102.  Among his many favorite witticisms was about how he kept driving until the age of 103.  “If I wanted a date, all I would have to do is walk into the dining room of Covenant Place and yell, ‘I drive at night.’”

Family members describe Mr. Wool as a “fabulous dancer,” and when he broke into a song, his voice was a rich, deep and vibrant baritone.”

For years, his phone voice mail message was, “Thanks for calling—I am out and about enjoying my good life.”

Mr. Wool was married for 67 years to Libbie Londe Wool. Family members and friends admired Mr. Wool’s devoted and loving care of his wife during her long illness until she died in 2000.

Mr. Wool is survived by a daughter, Joyce Rosenfeld, his only child, a granddaughter Emily Rosenfeld and a great-grandson Jasper Graham. A family member said, “They were the fortunate recipients of his never-ending support and presence and are eternally grateful to have had such an inspiring man meaningfully in their lives for such a long time.”

Mr. Wool’s longtime caregiver, Joanne Wilson recalls that he would often say “This too shall pass,” during difficult times, and “Let the good times roll,” to illustrate his love of life.

Graveside services were scheduled for 2 p,m., Thursday, Dec. 15, at B’nai Amoona Cemetery, 930 North and South Road, with Rabbi Carnie Shalom Rose officiating.

Memorial contributions preferred to BJC Hospice Foundation.