Categotry Archives: Business

by

Marc Torsilieri

3 comments

Categories: Business

Marc Frank Torsilieri, the lumberjack who found, felled and assembled the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree each year, died on March 12 of pancreatic cancer. He was 48.
Born in Morristown, N.J., Torsilieri graduated from Delhi College of Technology with a degree in horticulture. He and his brothers, Guy and Dean, operated Torsilieri Inc., a landscaping firm their father, Carl, opened in 1968.
For more than a quarter century, Torsilieri and other big tree experts would spend the fall looking for the perfect Christmas tree. Torsilieri preferred the Norway spruce, a tree that can exceed 80 feet in height and weigh 8 tons. Once the ideal tree was located, it would be cut down, transported and installed in front of Rockefeller Center in New York City.
The transportation process was not easy. Torsilieri and his crew would have to delicately fold the branches inward to avoid breakage during the ride into Manhattan. The tree would then be conveyed on a tractor-trailer and accompanied by a police escort. Upon the tree’s arrival in the city, Torsilieri would help decorate it with 30,000 lights and a 550-pound star.
The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was installed by construction workers in 1931. Today more than 10 million visitors view the majestic tree during the holiday season. A televised concert to mark the tree’s lighting also exposed the rest of the country to Torsilieri’s handiwork.
Torsilieri was an avid sportsman and a member of the Amwell Valley Hounds and the Reaville Sportsman Association. A New York City Master Rigger, he also moonlighted as a mover of large sculptures for area museums.

by

Ruth Jefford

No comments yet

Categories: Business, Musicians

Ruth Martin Jefford, Alaska’s first female commercial air taxi pilot, died on Jan. 9. Cause of death was not released. She was 92.
The Iowa native began flying when she was only 17 years old. She made her first solo flight in 1937, then married her flight instructor Jim Hurst. The couple moved to Anchorage, Alaska, in 1941 so Hurst could work for the Civil Aeronautics Authority, the predecessor of the Federal Aviation Administration. During World War II, Jefford volunteered with the Red Cross Motor Corps, helping to cover all the lights in Anchorage to avoid bombing raids by the enemy.
Jefford spent the next 60 years in the air. She was the first woman licensed to teach students at Merrill Field in Anchorage, and the first female commercial air taxi pilot in the state. Jefford was a charter member of the Alaska chapter of the Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots), and started the International Air Taxi Service at Anchorage International Airport.
For more than two decades, she delivered mail and supplies each week to the tiny community of Skwentna, Alaska. Jefford made the 140-mile trip in her Cessna 206, and took on charter and personal flights in between each visit. She and Hurst divorced in the early 1960s. Ruth remarried a decade later, this time to Jack Jefford, the chief pilot for the FAA in Alaska. Together they opened Valley Air Transport. Jack died in 1979.
With over 10,000 hours of flying time, Jefford made her last solo flight in 1996. Ten years later, she received the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, an honor created by the FAA to honor pilots who have flown safely for at least 50 years.
Jefford’s other passion was music. A violinist since the age of 9, she attended The Chicago Conservatory of Music and studied with teachers in New York and Paris. She co-founded the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra in 1946, and served as its concertmaster for nearly 30 years. In her spare time, Jefford enjoyed sailing her boat, the Arjay, and riding motorcycles.

by

Momofuku Ando

3 comments

Categories: Business

mando.jpgIn modern day America, the average price for milk is $3 a gallon. Bread costs $2.39 a loaf and hamburger is $3.99/lb. Yet, as many hungry college students know, it is still possible to eat an entire meal for under a dollar. Thanks to Momofuku Ando.
Ando was born in Taiwan when the island was still under Japanese rule. His parents died during his infancy so his grandparents raised him. He studied at Ritsumeikan University and ran clothing companies in Taipei and Osaka before opening the Nissin Food Products Co. in 1948. That same year, Ando was convicted of tax evasion for providing scholarships to students. He spent two years in jail then lost nearly all of his assets after a credit union he used went bankrupt.
Since many poor and working class families faced food shortages after World War II, Ando decided to help feed the masses, and recoup his losses, by creating an affordable and convenient foodstuff. After a great deal of trial and error, he introduced “Chicken Ramen” in 1958. The fried ramen noodles simply required submersion in boiling water, and the addition of flavoring that was provided in a small packet, to become a meal. At the time, “Chicken Ramen” was considered a luxury item since Japanese grocery stores sold fresh noodles at one-sixth the cost of Ando’s product. Within a year, however, his “instant” food became a hit with consumers.
Over the next five decades, Ando’s ramen noodles found favor with the inexperienced cook, the hungry office worker and the starving student. More than 85 billion servings are sold annually, usually for $.10 to $.25 per package. Dozens of cookbooks and Websites pay homage to instant ramen noodles and offer recipes such as Mac-a-Ramen and Cheese, Top Ramen pizza and noodle strudel.
Nissin currently produces 16 flavors of Top Ramen as well as the popular “Cup Noodle” soup. For nearly a decade, a 60 ft., steaming Cup Noodle sign graced Times Square, inviting all to partake of Nissin’s warm and hearty foods. Ramen noodles even made it into outer space in 2005 when Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi took instant noodles in a pouch on board the U.S. space shuttle Discovery.
The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, which honors Ando’s business achievements, opened in Ikeda City, Japan, in 1999. Three years later, he self-published his autobiography, “How I Invented Magic Noodles.” Although Ando retired as Nissin’s chairman in 2005, “The Ramen King” gave a speech at the company’s New Year ceremony, and continued to eat his famed product for lunch on a daily basis. His son Koko now runs the family business.
Ando died on Jan. 5 from a heart attack. He was 96.

by

Vincent Sardi Jr.

8 comments

Categories: Business

Vincent Sardi Jr., the owner of a landmark New York City restaurant, died on Jan. 4 of complications related to a urinary tract infection. He was 91.
The native New Yorker was the son of Vincent Sardi Sr., an Italian immigrant who opened Sardi’s in 1921. The eponymous eatery, which is currently located on 44th Street in the heart of Manhattan’s theater district, became a magnet for celebrities before World War II. Sardi Jr. served in the Marines during the war, and took over the business in 1947.
For the next five decades, Sardi’s was a popular hotspot for Hollywood legends and Broadway stars to celebrate their opening nights, conduct interviews with the press and seal deals for future roles. Patrons from all over the world also visited the venerated establishment to eat Sardi’s famous baked Alaska and to view the more than 1,300 celebrity caricatures that appear on the restaurant’s walls.
Sardi donated 227 caricatures dating from the late 1920s through the early 1950s to the Billy Rose Theatre Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts in 1979. Over 275 caricatures were also published in the book, “Off the Wall at Sardi’s.”
Sardi sold his world-famous restaurant in 1985 to two producers from Detroit, Ivan Bloch and Harvey Klaris, and the restaurateur Stuart Lichtenstein. But when the owners declared bankruptcy and closed the place in 1990, Sardi bought it back and reopened it a year later. The new Sardi’s featured a renovated dining area and a new menu. He retired in 1997; his grandson, Sean Ricketts, now manages the place.
During his tenure as owner of Sardi’s, Vincent tried to attend every opening night on Broadway and encouraged his staff to do the same. He ran tabs for out-of-work actors and offered a low-priced menu for members of Actors’ Equity, the Screen Actors Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The theatre community paid back his generosity in 2004 by giving Sardi a Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre. To pay further homage to the unofficial “mayor of Broadway,” theatres on the Great White Way dimmed their marquee lights on Jan. 5 for one minute.

by

Bruce Ruth

4 comments

Categories: Business

bruth.jpgBruce Ruth, the entrepreneur who made the town of Severence, Colo., famous for selling Rocky Mountain Oysters, died on Aug. 23 following a stroke. He was 73.
Born in Evans, Colo., Ruth first made a name for himself as a stock car driver. His aggressive driving skills came in handy during the Korean War when he served in the U.S. Army as a staff driver for Army officers. Upon his return to the states, the 25-year-old Ruth opened Bruce’s Bar, a Colorado establishment that operated under the motto “Where the geese fly and the bulls cry.”
Bruce’s Bar began offering Rocky Mountain Oysters in the late 1950s. Back then, Ruth told patrons they came from the nearby Poudre River. However, the bar’s famed appetizer wasn’t shellfish at all. Instead, the “oysters” were breaded and deep-fried bull testicles purchased from local meatpacking plants. Also known as cowboy caviar, mountain tendergroins, prairie oysters and swinging beef, these delicacies are considered by some to be an aphrodisiac. To others, they’re merely a tasty treat or a gastronomical adventure.
Tourists from all over the world — including Julia Roberts, John Elway, John Wayne, Rob Zombie and President George W. Bush — came to Bruce’s Bar to taste these western tidbits. Rocky Mountain Oysters became so popular that Ruth had to take out contracts with cattle ranchers in New Zealand and Costa Rica to produce the two tons of appetizers he sold on a monthly basis.
Every September for the past 24 years, Ruth hosted the annual Nut Run and doled out his bar’s specialty to thousands of motorcycle riders. This year, the bar plans to donate $1 of every all-you-can-eat Rocky Mountain oyster purchase to Hospice & Palliative Care of Northern Colorado in memory of Ruth. His son, Steven Ruth, a London-based businessman, plans to keep the bar open.
Ruth also served on the Severance town council and helped restore wetlands that attracted migratory Canada geese. He received the Severance Citizen of the Year Award in 2005.
[Update: On Jan. 31, 2007, Bruce’s Bar served its last basket of Rocky Mountain Oysters and closed its doors for the final time.]

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 27 28