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Barrington area icon Harold Lipofsky dies at 91

Published: Tuesday, March 4, 2014 9:16 a.m. CST • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:47 p.m. CST
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Harold Lipofsky died Feb. 28 in Florida at the age of 91. Barrington residents mourn the loss of the locally renowned businessman and community member.

BARRINGTON – A close friend to many and a greater inspiration to the community, 91-year-old Harold Lipofsky passed away Feb. 28 in Florida.

Harold Lipofsky's legacy remains loud within the local school district and service organizations.

Born Sept. 20, 1922, Harold Lipofsky was the youngest of five children – the son of Bessie and Samuel D. Lipofsky.

Harold Lipofsky was a businessman from birth, as his father opened Lipofsky's Department Store on Railroad Street, in downtown Barrington, when Harold Lipofsky was 16. The store later relocated to Cook Street and Harold Lipofsky managed the business with his brothers and sisters until assuming ownership in 1962.

One chapter of Diane P. Kostick's novel, "Voices of Barrington," is devoted to Harold Lipofsky's life story.

According to Kostick, Harold Lipofsky devoted himself endlessly to the store's success, keeping the business afloat during the Great Depression and stepping aside only briefly to serve in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Harold Lipofsky was stationed in Italy in 1944, working in the Army's Code Department before contracting malaria and earning a bronze star for his service.

On Dec. 19, 1989, Lipofsky's Department Store fell victim to an estimated $1 million fire. Harold Lipofsky wrote in Kostick's novel that he was "numb and in shock" as he realized all was lost.

Having no children himself, Harold Lipofsky said he watched as smoke billowed out of the 93-year-old structure and the business was left uninhabitable.

After the tragedy, Harold Lipofsky was ready to focus on the betterment of his community. A four-story, 60-condominium structure called "Harold Square" was on Harold Lipofsky's agenda, along with service ranging from the Barrington Noon Rotary club to the Barrington Chamber and village board.

Harold Lipofsky co-founded the Barrington Noon Rotary, served as a two-time Barrington Chamber president; a two-time Barrington VFW president, a Barrington village trustee, a Rotary president and district governor, and was inducted into the Barrington Area Senior Citizens Hall of Fame in 2002.

Barrington 220 School District Spokesman Jeff Arnett said Harold Lipofsky was very well-known in the school system as well.

Arnett said that as a Barrington High School graduate himself, Harold Lipofsky went on to earn the school's Distinguished Graduate Award and influenced several key decisions within the district, such as naming and positioning the schools.

Arnett said one of the best stories Harold Lipofsky ever told was the "Battle of Barrington," where as a young schoolboy, Harold Lipofsky witnessed infamous gangster Baby Face Nelson being mortally wounded in November 193 as two FBI agents were killed in a criminal shootout along Northwest Highway in Barrington as school let out.

Eleven-year Barrington Noon Rotary member Alexis Portugal said she misses Harold Lipofsky very much, remembering him as never missing a Rotary meeting.

"He always attended the meetings, even if it meant that a caregiver had to go with him," Portugal said. "He knew everything that was going on and was very engaged with the local boy scouts and foreign exchange students."

The Barrington Noon Rotary established the Harold Lipofsky Fund several years ago to raise money for Barrington area charities. Harold Lipofsky was never married and is survived by a niece, Beverly Kramer. He was wintering in Florida at the time of his passing, Portugal said.

Portugal said that Harold Lipofsky attended a final Rotary meeting in Florida two days prior to his passing, maintaining his perfect attendance record.

Harold Lipofsky's cause of death is unknown. A graveside funeral service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Zion Gardens, 3600 N Narragansett Ave, near the north-side of Chicago.

Rotary member Larry Barnett said in an e-mail that Harold Lipofsky was a quiet member in recent years, yet a tower of strength in the Rotary, scouting and Barrington communities.

"He will be missed by many," Barnett said.

Check back for more details.

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