Samuel Ryback, 76, the longtime owner of Brite Jewelers in Kenmore who was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, died Thursday (Sept. 25, 1997) in Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a long illness.
As a youth of 17 in Lublin, Poland, he fled the German invasion in 1939. His parents, two sisters, a brother and other relatives died in a Nazi concentration camp.
He made his way through Russia and was living in Japan when that country entered the war and ordered all non-Japanese out of the country within 48 hours. With no money and no visa, Ryback and other Jewish refugees were able to enter Shanghai, China, where they lived a squalid existence in a refugee camp until the war ended.
He made his way to San Francisco and then to Buffalo, where he had relatives by marriage, and was given a job in the jewelry business.
Eventually, he was able to open his own store, and he ran the business on Delaware Avenue for 30 years until he retired in 1984.
"He was the American dream come true," said Ann Forman Ryback, his wife of 47 years. "He arrived here penniless and with no family and made something of himself."
The Town of Tonawanda resident was extremely proud when in 1976 Temple Beth Zion named him Man of the Year in recognition of his efforts on behalf of the temple as well as the United Jewish Fund, the Israel Bonds campaign and B'nai B'rith.
Surviving in addition to his wife are two daughters, Renee Brownstein of Penfield and Nadine of the Town of Tonawanda, and two grandchildren.
Services were held today in Delaware Park Memorial Chapel. Burial was in Forest Lawn.