Paul Silverman passed away on Dec. 9, 2021, in Sun City Center, Fla., just a week after his 98th birthday. He is survived by a loving family: his wife of 75+ years, Tess; his children, Judith Potts, Terrie Silverman and Joel Silverman; his grandchildren, Emily Potts, Carrie Cicuto and Hannah Silverman; and his great-grandchildren, Payton, Keira and Ellie. He will be remembered by his family and friends as a funny, generous, kind, honest and open-hearted human being with a deep sense of loyalty, caring and empathy for others.
Paul was born on Dec. 2, 1923, in Vineland, New Jersey, the only child of Rose and Adolph Silverman, from whom he inherited his warmth, ethical values, sense of adventure, love of music and passion for travel. He graduated from Vineland High School just before the start of World War II. He attended Pennsylvania Military College and after graduating, and he was drafted into the Army infantry. Subsequently, he was sent to Europe and the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium.
After returning to the United States, he was stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky. On VJ Day, August 15, 1945, he went to the YMHA in Louisville. It was there he first laid eyes on Tess Taustine, the woman who would become his wife. She was a dark-haired beauty, and it was love at first sight. After his discharge from the Army, they were married in Louisville on June 25, 1946, also the anniversary of Tess’ parents, Dena and Hugo. He was 21; she was 19. They began their lives together in Vineland where they lived for over 50 years, raising three children and becoming active members of the community.
Paul’s parents had started and developed a successful business, Silverman’s Men’s and Boy’s Store. When Paul returned to Vineland, he joined his father in the family enterprise and, later, took over when his father retired. The store, as it was referred to in our family, was like a second home for Paul. His loyal employees were like family members to him, as were many of the store’s customers. He treated everyone with fairness, respect and generosity. The business thrived until 1967, when a fire destroyed the building and inventory. This was a huge blow, but Paul was resilient and imaginative. He quickly found work in another men’s clothing store until he got involved in real estate, banking and equipment leasing.
In addition to his commitment to family and business, Paul spent many years as a Boy Scout leader and was deeply devoted to Troop 9 and his young scouts. He and Tess were also active in the Jewish community and related philanthropic activities.
Paul worked hard and also made the most of his leisure time. He and Tess traveled the world, and he also pursued his own interests, especially sailing and skiing. He owned a small sailboat and was a member of the Union Lake Sailing Club. He brought his family along on east coast ski trips, but with his friends and sometimes with Tess, he tackled the slopes in Colorado, Utah and Europe. In later years, he didn’t complain about getting older, but he did express regret that he could no longer ski.
After a season as snowbirds, Paul and Tess moved to Sun City Center, Fla., in 2000, to the house where they have resided ever since. Sun City was perfect for their needs and lifestyle, and Paul was grateful every day that they had made the decision to settle there. They joined clubs, made friends, went to the gym or the pool daily, attended Florida Orchestra concerts and other cultural events and got involved in volunteering, just as they had done in Vineland.
Paul found his new second home at the Sawdust Engineers, a woodworking club with lots of space and every tool imaginable. Paul taught himself the craft and, over the years, he created many beautiful and functional pieces: benches, bookends, step stools, toys, lazy susans, coasters and many, many cutting boards. Most people who knew Paul eventually received one of his creations, as he loved giving them away. As his skills developed, he experimented with new techniques, continuing to create until his failing eyesight made it too difficult.
In the last few years, Paul struggled with many health problems that required constant management and accommodation. Though it was discouraging, he never stopped trying to stay engaged with his family, friends and community, to reach out to people who needed help, to learn new ways to pass the time. He taught himself to use a tablet so he could listen to the music he loved on youtube, to exercise and do things to improve his health and functionality. In fact, he was preparing for their daily trip to the pool when he fell at home. The injuries from that fall led to his rapid decline and death just three days later.
The family requests no flowers and asks that donations in Paul’s memory be made to The US Holocaust Museum: https://www.ushmm.org/, Feeding America: https://feedingtampabay.org/donate, Sun City Center Emergency Squad: https://sccems.com/support-us/, or an agency of your choice that serves those experiencing food and housing insecurity. Thank you for your part in making Paul’s life richer and more meaningful.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 11 a.m., outdoors in the Pineapple Plaza (small courtyard adjacent to the shuffleboard courts) at the Sun City Community Center. Please wear a mask.