WOODLAND HILLS, CA- Joseph Shorr, Honorary President of Congregation B'nai Israel and Former Circulation Manager of The Woonsocket Call passed away at his home in Woodland Hills, CA Friday. Mr. Shorr, 95, is survived by his wife, Frances, his son, Irwin J. Shorr of Olney, MD, his granddaughter, Dr. Sloane Sevran of Calabasas, CA, his two great grandchildren, Bryce and Hunter, and his daughter, Ellen Sevran of Woodland Hills, with whom he lived, and his brother Sanford Shorr, of Meriden, Ct.
Mr. Shorr was born in Woonsocket on March 4, 1915, the son of Isaac and Rachel Shorr.
He attended Woonsocket schools and went on to receive his bachelor's degree in 1939 from Northeastern University, where he was active in student affairs. He served on the Student Council and was Secretary of the Senior Class. Mr. Shorr wrote his thesis on "Magazine Circulation from the Independent Wholesaler's Point of View" and went on to work for The Woonsocket News Co, where he started his career in charge of the Magazine Department and then went on to become the Manager.
He was married August 26, 1944 to the former Frances Blankstein, also of Woonsocket. They celebrated their 66th Anniversary last August.
In 1964, upon the death of his brother Morris, Mr. Shorr took over the reins of The Woonsocket Call's Circulation Department. In 1974, like his brother before him, Mr. Shorr was elected President of the New England Association of Circulation Managers. His election marked the first time in the association's history that brothers had headed this organization. In 1981 he was appointed International Chairman of the ABC to the International Circulation Managers Association., holding that post for four years. This was the first time in the history of that organization that a person had served more than one year in the post. He retired in 1985, concluding a career in printed media distribution that spanned more than half a century. Mr. Shorr's retirement concluded a 60-year period during which a member of the Shorr family had been associated with The Call. Under Joseph Shorr's leadership, the circulation of The Call increased dramatically, bringing the newspaper into second place in the state, during a time when the circulation of other newspapers was declining.
His involvement in the Jewish Community in Woonsocket began when he attended religious school there and became President of Woonsocket Chapter AZA, a B'nai B'rith youth group, President of District 1 AZA, and President of the Woonsocket Zionist District.
Mr. Shorr had long been prominent in synagogue activities. He served two terms as Congregation B'nai Israel's President and had been a member of the Board of Directors for 20 years, serving 5 years as Chairman of the Hebrew School Committee and many years as Chairman of the Ritual Committee. He also served as Secretary of Chevra Kadisha, the congregation's burial society. In 1964 he was named B'nai B'rith's Man of the Year, after serving as their president. In his honor, the B'nai B'rith chapter established the Joseph and Frances Shorr Endowment Fund.
"The honor you accord me tonight is one which I consider the most significant I have ever received. It is not a tribute that is won by election. It comes unsolicited. It is an honor which is bestowed and I confess a deep sense of humility when I tell you that I am sincerely moved by this recognition." Mr. Shorr was also recognized because of his strong belief "that everyone in his own way should contribute to the welfare of the community."
In 1978 Shorr was given a rare honor. He was elected Honorary President of Congregation B'nai Israel. Since the congregation was chartered in 1893, only two men previously had been so honored, Arthur I. Darman and Samuel J. Medoff. Edythe Wittes was accorded the same honor after Mr. Shorr.
"A spirit of volunteerism was embedded in his character, and he led by example," said Larry Sadwin, who followed Joe Shorr's second presidency, more than three decades ago. "For 60 years he was a player, and he's still a player." "He was my mentor, and every president's mentor. He was just always there for you," Sadwin said. Past President Stephan Bloch concurred saying, "Joe served as mentor to all of the presidents who succeeded him."
Attorney Richard R. Ackerman, another past president, concurred, praising Shorr, "Joe served as a role model for the proper way to conduct one's life as an active participant in the community and religious affairs. He did things in the traditional way, the right way."
Joseph Shorr was a strong man, a pillar of his community, a bright man who passed the California driver's license test at the age of 92. Long after he left Woonsocket, people from his community continued to seek his advice. They looked to him and held him in high esteem. Mr. Shorr shared his love of the Red Sox and the Celtics with his great grandson and was positive that his great granddaughter would someday be Miss America. He loved his entire family and was proud of them as well.
His funeral will be held, Tuesday, January 25, 2011 at 12:30PM in Congregation B'nai Israel, Woonsocket, under the direction of the Chevra Kadisha and the Holt Funeral Home, 510 So. Main St., Woonsocket. Burial will follow in B'nai Israel Cemetery, Mendon Rd., Woonsocket. Contributions can be made in memory of Joseph Shorr to Congregation B'nai Israel, 224 Prospect Street, Woonsocket, Rhode Island 02895.
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