John Lance | The Jewish Chronicle of Pittsburgh

SPEAR: John Spear, 83, of Squirrel Hill and Oakland, died Sunday, August 14, 2022, after a courageous 17-year battle with kidney cancer. John was the son of the late Jacob and Else Spear; beloved husband of the late Janet Cohen Spear; beloved father of Jeffrey (Sheryl Wein), David (Jill) and Douglas (Andrea); stepfather of Amy Spear; proud grandfather (Papa John) of Rebecca (Stefan Haugen), Abigail, Natalie, Marni, Charlotte, Archie, Tessa, Matthew and Amanda. He was so proud of his three sons, each of whom became a lawyer. They thought he was working too hard in retail and Janet insisted that they have an advanced degree in a profession. The family express their gratitude to his college friend, Marcia Gross, with whom he reconnected on social media and enjoyed his later years. A lifelong Pittsburgher, John was born on October 23, 1938. He graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 1956, forming lifelong friendships as evidenced by the many class reunions he held. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1960 and served as president of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. John married Janet Elinor Cohen on May 6, 1962, a partnership of true love for 55 years. Their dating began when Janet bought her ’53 Chevy for $200. He then delivered snow tires to her house and asked her for an appointment. They went to LeMont and on the way back he surprised her by announcing that he would marry her. Shortly after, their love story began. Janet and John have been fortunate enough to travel the world together, enjoying special trips to Israel, China and many destinations in Europe. They enjoyed many winters in Key Biscayne, frequent visits with family and friends, and summer trips to Hilton Head and Maine. John worked with his parents at Fashion Spear in Braddock, his family business, from high school to 1980. The business, which opened in a 20 x 60 Duquesne Light checkout office, grew into a chain of three stores of 21,000 square feet. , expanded to Greengate Mall in 1965 (later Westmoreland Mall in 1977) and Northway Mall in 1971, with its famous design room. Fashion Spear was known for its exclusive merchandise; customers came to shop from all over the tri-state area. John created an exclusive wedding business in the stores, where each bride received a gift. In 1980, he joined Kaufmann’s in Greensburg as a store manager. His Fashion Spear clients followed suit. He was soon promoted to manager of the South Hills store (now Galleria). In October 1983, he was promoted downtown to Divisional Merchandise Manager Coats, Furs and Wedding Dresses. Soon after, he took on additional responsibilities in hosiery and clothing accessories. He was then named Division Vice President, quickly adding Young Attitude Casual Sportswear to his responsibilities and becoming a full Vice President. He quadrupled Kaufmann’s fur business in one year. Her sales of coats and furs in the auditorium and her flair for fashion brought great enthusiasm to the downtown store as well as to the branches. He was known for successful shows of fur trunks at Kaufmann branches in Pittsburgh and in the states of Erie, Youngstown, Cleveland, Charleston and New York. Nothing gave him more satisfaction than working the floor, making sure that all his customers received special attention. John made it a point in his retirement to keep in touch with many of the executives and young interns he mentored. Upon his retirement from Kaufmann’s, he consulted for three years with the Millstein family, founders of Burlington Coat Factory. John has held numerous leadership positions in community and charitable organizations. He was vice-president of the Braddock Rotary Club (1978-80) and a Rotarian since 1964. He was also president of the Greater Braddock Chamber of Commerce (1972-74), where he negotiated the reopening of Braddock schools after the Martin Luther Royal Riots. He was president of the YouthSquad, a group of men who got out of prison and got jobs to help them rehabilitate, even once securing a loan for one of its members. He was vice president of Hebrew Free Loan, where he served on the board of directors for 20 years. He was also president of Forward Shady Housing Corp for five years and a member of its board of directors for over 20 years. He was a board member of Jewish Residential Services for six years and of Congregation Rodef Shalom for six years. He was president of the Concordia Club and served on its board of directors for many years. He was a board member of the Israeli Heritage Hall at the University of Pittsburgh in the Cathedral of Learning. He was a mentor for three years in the Pittsburgh Promise Mentoring Partnership at Sterret School. He volunteered for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. John spent 13 summers at Kamp Kewanee in LaPlume, Pennsylvania, six as a camper and seven as a hiking and canoeing counselor. These friendships lasted a lifetime. John was a lifelong Pittsburgh sports fan, especially enjoying Pirates games, becoming a season ticket holder at age 16 at Forbes Field. He coached his sons’ teams for six years in the 14th Ward Little League and won two championships. Services at Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Avenue (in Morewood), Tuesday, August 16, 2022 at 11 a.m. Visits from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Burial West View Cemetery. Contributions can be made to the Spear Endowment Fund of the Rodef Shalom Congregation, the Janet and John Spear Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, or the Hebrew Free Loan. Arrangements by Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. PJC

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