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'We will miss his bright smile'

World War II veteran Eddie Rosenblum dies at age 100

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West Hempstead Army veteran Edmund Rosenblum, who was known as Eddie, told the Herald last year that he was thankful to be recognized for his years of service by local groups and elected officials when he celebrated his 100th birthday on July 27.

Community groups, including the West Hempstead Fire Department and Boy Scout Troop 240, and officials surprised Rosenblum with a drive-by parade for his birthday. County Executive Laura Curran presented him with a proclamation for his contributions to the community.

Rosenblum, who lived in West Hempstead for more than 60 years, died on Feb. 14.

“Eddie proudly served in World War II and frequently spoke about being grateful for freedom,” said Yehuda Friedman, his neighbor, in a Twitter post. “We will miss his bright smile and positivity.”

Rosenblum was just a teenager when he watched Adolf Hitler march down the streets of his hometown, Vienna, Austria, in 1938. He also witnessed the carnage of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, later that year, during which Nazi paramilitary forces and civilians murdered at least 90 Jews, ransacked Jewish homes, hospitals and schools, and destroyed hundreds of synagogues.

To escape Hitler’s murderous campaign against Jews, Rosenblum emigrated from Austria to New York City with his older sister, Mitzi, arriving on a chilly, rainy morning in 1939. He got a job as a tailor shortly after his arrival, earning $10 a week.

Living in the Bronx near the old Yankee Stadium, he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942. He served as an infantryman and, because he spoke German and French, as an interpreter. A member of the 25th Infantry Division, he took part in the invasion of Normandy, France, in 1944, coming ashore on Omaha Beach. The following year, he was stationed in Manila, in the Philippines, where he sewed a Filipino-American flag for the islands’ provisional government after their liberation from Japan. The deed earned him an Army Commendation Ribbon.

When Rosenblum returned home in 1946, his family surprised him and his comrades with a homecoming party. There, through mutual friends, he met Shirley Levin, of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and the two were married the following year. They moved to West Hempstead in 1955, and Eddie bought Edward Mitchell Custom Tailors, a shop in Garden City, from Mitchell in 1956.

“Because I was always in demand” as a tailor, Rosenbaum said, “I told my wife that it was time for me to have my own business.”

Keeping the shop’s original name, Rosenblum transformed it into a center of custom European tailoring, which attracted several popular politicians and sports figures including Joe Namath and Al Toon of the New York Jets. A board member of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce for more than 30 years, Rosenblum was named the chamber’s Small Business Owner of the Year in 1985. He sold the business in 1993, and in his retirement he became a self-described “continuing learner” at Adelphi University, studying history and psychology.

The Rosenblums had four children — Harvey, Stuart, Janice and Barbara — and were married for 66, years until Shirley died at age 89 in 2013.

Eddie took up several other hobbies in retirement, including horseback riding at the New York Equestrian Center, bike riding and, until 2010, skiing in Colorado with his family. On most days until his death, he went for walks around his neighborhood.

“Like they say in the Boy Scouts, ‘To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight,’” he said.