Salomon “Sal” S. Podgursky, 84, of Whippany died April 1, 2020. He was born in 1935 in Warsaw, Poland, which he fled at the age of 4 along with his parents and older brothers. 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. After almost two years in a Soviet internment camp, where his parents were forced to work in coal mines, the family was released, migrating to the city of Frunze (now called Bishkek) in the Soviet central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.
After World War II ended the family returned to Europe, where they lived in a displaced persons’ camp, and eventually boarded one of the first boats bringing Jewish Holocaust survivors to Palestine. Due to a British blockade, the family was prevented from reaching Palestine, and were interned on the island of Cyprus for several months before entering the new State of Israel in 1948.
In 1952, the family left Israel for Europe, moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he 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 his arrival at age 23, he was a fluent speaker of Yiddish, Polish, Russian, Hebrew, and French.
He went on to found Excel Service Company, a successful furniture building and restoration company in Louisville. He hired many immigrants, including Jews fleeing persecution from the Soviet Union in the 1970s and 80s and who were resettled in Louisville by HIAS. Excel Service, named after the Ixelles neighborhood in Brussels where he had learned his trade, was sold in 1993 but is still operating in Louisville. In 2018, he relocated to the Lester Senior Housing Community in Whippany.
He also enjoyed painting still lifes.
Predeceased by a son, Myron, and a brother, Jacob, he is survived by his wife of 57 years, Sara Jane (Fuchs); a son, Robert (Alison) of Maplewood; three brothers, Josef of Manaus, Brazil, and Charles and Henry of Louisville; and two grandchildren.
Services were held April 5 with arrangements by J.L. Apter Memorial Chapels of Dover. Memorial contributions may be made to HIAS in Washington, D.C.