Whether it was running a company or providing sage advice, Joel Shiff was a man known for leading by example. “He was a consummate professional, very well spoken, he thought before he said anything and was level-headed,” said Joel Fuller, a friend and Peninsula Library Board colleague.
Shiff, a Lawrence resident, died at home of pancreatic cancer on April 8. He was 68.
He was diagnosed with a rare form of the cancer in January of last year. During the past 14 months, Shiff lived his life as normally as possible, maintaining his work schedule and fully participating in his community activities. Often he would attend meetings after a day of chemotherapy, his wife, Jane, said.
His associations with people and organizations were long-term relationships. He was bar mitvahed at Congregation Beth Sholom in Lawrence and was married there eight years later. Shiff was the congregation’s president and he and Jane were married for 47 years. “We are all diminished by his passing,” said Beth Sholom Rabbi Kenneth Hain, who called Shiff his “rebbe” or teacher.
A 1961 graduate of Lawrence High School, Shiff earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the prestigious Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined the accounting firm of Deloitte and Touche after completing graduate school in 1966.
Recognized for his business acumen, he retired from Deloitte as an audit partner, then served as the chief financial officer for Atkins Nutritionals, a diet product company, and most recently as CFO of NCH Capital, which manages investments in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Successful in his career, Shiff volunteered a substantial amount of time to his community. He served on the library board for 12 years, including stints as president and other official capacities. “I benefited from Joel Shiff’s activism,” said PPL Trustee Jeffrey Leb, adding that Shiff welcomed him to the board and Leb enjoyed their conversations. “We need more people like him. I modeled myself after him. He is impossible to replace.”