Zelig Preis of Trumbull, CT, affectionately known to many as "Zen" "Zane" and "Zenick", passed away on January 1, 2013 surrounded by his loving family.
He was born on February 28, 1924 in Dzialoszyce, Poland where his family owned the town's mill.
After the invasion of Poland by the Nazis, Mr. Preis was imprisoned in Plaszow, the first of several concentration camps where he would spend the next three years of his life; he often recounted the story of his joy at being liberated by the American 3rd Army while on a death march in a forest in Proszik in April, 1945.
Mr. Preis was left the lone survivor of his immediate family members; his mother, Blima, his father, Szmerla, his brothers Izhak and David, and his sister Rywka, all perished in the Nazi death camps.
In 1949, Mr. Preis immigrated to New York City where he and a cousin partnered and began a clothing retail business. He married his wife, Jean Preminger, in 1955; they later moved to Connecticut to raise their three sons.
Mr. Preis opened his first store, Danway's, in the Shopper's Fair on East Main Street in Bridgeport in 1959. Mr. Preis later opened Pants Plus in the Trumbull Shopping Park where he ran a successful business for 27 years. He and his family eventually opened additional stores in Trumbull, Milford, Norwalk and Manchester.
Mr. Preis was known and loved for his generous and kind nature, maintaining friendships with former employees and customers throughout his life. His family was his greatest source of pleasure; he was especially proud of his eight granddaughters. He was frequently a guest speaker at schools and colleges where he relayed his experiences as a Jew in Nazi Poland and discussed the dangers of religious and ethnic intolerance. In 1996, his life story was recorded by Spielberg's Survivors of the Showah project and archived in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Preis was also a prolific painter and sketch artist. He traveled extensively in his later years with his dear friend, Rose Koplow, formerly of Boston, MA. Mr. Preis was an active member of the Jewish community serving as the president of the Honorable Menschen of the JCC of Greater Bridgeport. He was a member of the Dzialoszyce Society and a local Holocaust survivors' group.
Mr. Preis was predeceased by his wife who died in 1990.
He leaves behind his three loving sons, their wives and his eight adoring granddaughters: Dana and Deirdra, Samantha, Julia and Anne Preis of Easton, CT, Wayne and Shirley, Shyah, Wesley and Aurora Preis of San Diego, CA, and Gavin and Susan, Megan and Courtney Preis of Newtown, CT.
Burial will be private. A memorial service that will be open to the public will be announced shortly.