For those of you who read my last blog here is the obituary for my father-in-law. A memorial service will be held on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. at the Residence at Weinberg Village, 300 JHF Drive in Pittsburgh. Donations can be made to the Music and Wellness Program at the Jewish Association on Aging, 200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, 15217.
ROOT – Benjamin Harris, died Jan. 29, 2016, in Pittsburgh, Pa., after spending 96 years making the world a better place. Root led a remarkable life in which he made friends, made memories and made an impact in the community but also in his travels around the world. He left an impression on everyone he met with his combination of deep intelligence, irrepressible charm, unfailing kindness and youthful sense of humor. To some, Root was known as a businessman – a co-owner, along with his beloved wife of 54 years, Cheryl Charlson Root, of Charlsons Wonderful World of Furniture from 1946-99. To others, he was a community leader – a founding board member of the Cambria County Community College from 1993-99, co-founder of the Barnesboro Public Library and the co-founder of the Coal County Medical Center. To those who knew him best, he was a family man above all. Root was the devoted patriarch of a family that included four children, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren; his extended family ranged from Argentina to Japan. He enjoyed nothing more than visiting with his loved ones, hearing stories about them and doting on them. In his later years, phone calls with family provided pride and joy on a daily basis. Root was born in the Bronx (N.Y.) in 1919 and graduated from Nutley (N.J.) High School after relocating several times with his family, who owned Jewish delicatessens. Moving frequently as a child helped Root develop into a man who made friends anywhere he went – Indonesia, Liberia, Russia, Mexico and across town. He graduated from North Carolina State University in 1941 and spent five years working as a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspector, a chemist and a medical school student before marrying Cheryl and relocating to her hometown of Barnesboro, Pa., in 1945. In 1946, the young couple took over the furniture store founded by Cheryl’s parents in 1907, and eventually expanded it to a 15,000-square foot pillar of Barnesboro’s downtown. They proudly served Cambria County and the surrounding area with personalized service and an inventory stocked with furniture the Roots often acquired with their annual trips to international trade shows in High Point (N.C.), Atlanta and elsewhere. Six-day work weeks at Charlsons Furniture were interspersed with time spent traveling to over 40 countries, riding the horses he kept for decades or visiting with family. He also was passionate about bettering the coal-mining community he called home. Root was a charter member and founding president of the Barnesboro Business District Authority, was the co-founder of the Coalition for Better Healthcare in Tricare Area and spent 20 years on the board of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Arts, the nation’s longest-running museum satellite system with four locations in western Pennsylvania. He and Cheryl were longtime supporters of the B’Nai Israel Synagogue that her father had founded in Barnesboro. Root also spearheaded a three-year consolidation effort that resulted in the Jan. 1, 2000, formation of the town of Northern Cambria as the merger of Barnesboro and neighboring Spangler. Root was honored in many ways throughout his life. In 1986, he won a Cambria County Conservation Award, he was a 2002 inductee into the Cambria County Business Hall of Fame and he was a member of the Northern Cambria Hall of Fame Class of 2013. To him, there was no greater honor than the opportunity to spend time with his family, whom he cherished, nurtured and uplifted throughout all of his days. After his beloved Cheryl passed away in 2000, Root was blessed with the love and companionship of Mary Ann Fluck (deceased) of Boise, Idaho, and Edna Belle Kalson of Pittsburgh, Pa. At the time of his passing, he was being visited, comforted and cared for by his family and the staff of Weinberg Village, a personal care facility in Pittsburgh. Root leaves behind a towering legacy of love and inspiration, as well as his four children, Stephen (Louise) Root of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Paula Pimentel of Sedona, Ariz.; Maxine (Ray) Butler of Kent, Ohio; and Dan (Sue) Root of Alexandria, Va.; eight grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. A memorial service will be held on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. at the Residence at Weinberg Village, 300 JHF Drive in Pittsburgh. Donations can be made to the Music and Wellness Program at the Jewish Association on Aging, 200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, 15217. The association’s website is jaapgh.org.