April 1, 2020 ~ 7 Nisan 5780
Salomon S. Podgursky, 84, formerly of Louisville, passed away in the early morning of April 1 at Morristown Medical Center in Morristown, New Jersey, due to complications from COVID-19. Sal was born in Warsaw, Poland on October 8, 1935, to the late Aron and Rachel Podgursky.
At the age of 4, Sal, along with his parents and older brothers, fled Warsaw due to the German invasion of Poland at the outset of World War II. After fleeing the Germans, the family came under Soviet occupation in Eastern Poland, from where in early 1940 they were deported to the Ural Mountains by the Soviet occupiers. After almost two years in a Soviet internment camp, where Sal’s parents were forced to work in coal mines, Sal and his family were released. At which point, the family, seeking better conditions, eventually migrated to the city of Frunze (now called Bishkek) in the Soviet Central Asian Republic of Kyrgyzstan. It was in Frunze that Sal’s brother Charles was born.
After World War II ended, the family returned to Europe and lived in a displaced persons’ camp for Jewish refugees, and from where they eventually decided to board one of the first boats bringing Jewish survivors of World War II to British controlled Palestine. Due to the British blockade, the family was prevented from reaching Palestine. They were interned on the island of Cyprus. Only after several months in a refugee camp in Cyprus was the family allowed to enter Palestine, were in 1948, after Palestine had officially become the State of Israel, Sal’s brother Henry was born.
In 1952, the family was once again on the move, having left Israel for Europe, where they eventually found a home in Brussels, Belgium. It was in Brussels that Sal apprenticed as a cabinet maker. In 1958, the family immigrated to the United States and were resettled in Louisville, Ky by the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS). By the time Sal had arrived in the United States at the age of 23, he was a fluent speaker of Yiddish, Polish, Russian, Hebrew, and French.
It was in Louisville that Sal met and married his wife Sara Jane, whom he adored, at the Kentucky Hotel, on Thanksgiving Day, 1962. Sal went on to found Excel Service Company, a successful furniture building and restoration company in Louisville, where he was known as Mr. Sal by his loyal customers. Sal made sure to hire immigrants like himself, including Jews fleeing persecution from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s and who were resettled in Louisville by HIAS. Excel Service (which was named after the Ixelles neighborhood in Brussels where Sal learned his trade), was sold in 1993 but is still operating in Louisville.
Sal was not only a skilled craftsman but a painter and a person who loved to figure out how things worked. When not building or restoring a piece of furniture for one of his customers or family members, even long after he sold his business, Sal could be found in his basement in Hikes Point, painting a still life while listening to some of his favorite Yiddish melodies.
In 2018, Sal and Sara relocated to the Lester Senior Housing Community in Whippany, New Jersey, in order to be closer to their son Robert, his wife and their children, who live in Maplewood, New Jersey.
Left to cherish his memory are his devoted wife of 57 years, Sara Jane (Fuchs) Podgursky; his son Robert Podgursky (Alison), and two grandchildren whom he loved more than anything and was so proud of, Matea Podgursky and Zev Podgursky. Sal is also survived by his brothers, Josef Podgursky, of Manaus, Brazil, and Charles Podgursky and Henry Podgursky, of Louisville. Sal was preceded in death by his parents, his son Myron Podgursky, and brother Jacob Podgursky.
Due to stay-at-home guidelines, and the COVID-19 pandemic, a private graveside funeral will be taking place in New Jersey.
The family thanks the dedicated medical professionals and home health providers for all their compassion and care.
Expressions of sympathy are appreciated to HIAS, PO Box 97077, Washington, DC 20090-7077.