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February 14, 2003 - Image 121

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-02-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


Obituaries are updated regularly and archived on JN Online:

Building A Legacy

Special to the Jewish News

Southfield Civic Center, two fire sta-
tions, the golf course, homes and sen-
ior citizens' centers, including
IVIIT ith more than 3,000
Trowbridge Apartments" and, as
homes, apartments and
daughter Shari Cohen added, "the
commercial buildings
city's first senior citizen housing com-
and innumerable good
plex, McDonnell Towers."
deeds to his credit, Arnold Cohen "did
But those who knew Mr. Cohen say
not tear things down — he was a
business success was only one of the
builder," said Rabbi Daniel Syme of
passions that motivated this multi-
Temple Beth El.
faceted individual — someone who
Mr. Cohen's legacy of building for
always did it "My Way," as the Frank
the future includes as well the thou-
Sinatra song describes.
sands of youngsters from Detroit's
"He was a tough guy, an irascible
inner city who received the chance to
curmudgeon, but with sensitivity to
attend college because he believed in
those who needed help most," Rabbi
their promise.
Syme said. "He was quick to give
Arnold Cohen, 80, of Bingham
someone a loan or job if they truly
Farms, died of pneumonia on Feb. 3,
needed it."
2003. He was a real estate developer,
Mr. Cohen was a philanthropist
builder and founder of Southfield-
who established an educational
based ARCO Construction and
enhancement program for children 15
Charter Development companies.
years ago at Freedom Place, a low-
During the 1960s, "his vision
income apartment complex in Detroit.
helped the city of Southfield grow
The after-school enrichment program
from a township into a thriving
that he funded with his partners is
metropolis," said Rabbi Syme, who
staffed through Wayne State
spoke at his funeral. He said Mr.
University's College of Education,
Cohen "planned or built the
Shari said. Full scholarships are given

to high school seniors
Detroit Native
admitted to the nearby uni-
The Detroit-born
son of Herbert
Historic preservation in
Cohen of Leeds,
Detroit was another of Mr.
England, and
Cohen's interests. "One of
Sophie of Glasgow,
his proudest achievements
Scotland, Arnold
was the renovation of the
Cohen became bar
Stroh River Place apartment
mitzvah at
complex on Detroit's river-
front," his daughter said.
Shaarey Zedek in
Mr. Cohen served as a
Detroit and gradu-
board member from 1986-
ated from Detroit
1998 of Jewish Apartments
Central High
and Services (JAS), an
School and what is
agency that assists older
now Wayne State
adults with housing and
support services. He donat- Arnold Co hen
He and his wife,
ed a rescued Holocaust-era
Phyllis, met as
Torah to Prentis Jewish Apartments in
teenagers and married in 1943.
Oak Park in memory of his mother.
During World War II, he enlisted in
JAS Executive Director Marsha
the U.S. Army Air Forces and served
Goldsmith Kamin said Mr. Cohen
stateside as a corporal for four years.
was "purposeful and had a huge
He then worked at Grand Jewelry
heart." People always listened when he Co., the family business, before begin-
spoke, she said, because he was "a logi- ning as a residential builder in the
cal thinker and never afraid to speak
his mind."


A Helping Hand

Special to the Jewish News


f the highest form of charity is
to give anonymously, then
Arthur "Archie" Sills fulfilled
this mitzvah many times over.
Mr. Sills served as mentor to hun-
dreds of people during his successful
career in real estate investment.
"Here was a man who was enor-
mously successful, and, unlike many
others, he demanded to stay out of
the limelight," said Rabbi Alon
Tolwin of Aish HaTorah in
"He did incredible things for peo-
ple privately, both here and in Israel.
He was larger than life because he
chose to stay behind the scenes."
Mr. Sills, 77, died Feb. 5, 2003, in
his Bloomfield Hills home from pan-
creatic cancer.

After a brief stint as a practicing
attorney, Mr. Sills realized that his
true calling was in the field of real
estate investment. He began buying,
rehabilitating and renting properties
while his company, First Holding
Company, continued to grow.
"He set the bar very high in terms
of ethics and energy and drive to
excellence," said his son Douglas Sills.
"Rarely do you find someone as driv-
en to success, who achieved it and
who had such a large space in his
approach to life for fairness and gen-
"He never addressed people from
`on high,' never thought he was
innately better than anyone else," said
his son, "and he always helped people
without anyone knowing about it."
When news of his death spread, Mr.
Sills' family received countless phone
calls and letters from businesspeople

whom Archie had
helped, both financially
and otherwise, through-
out his career.
"If Archie didn't invent
the concept of 'paying it
forward,' then he cer-
tainly perfected it," said
longtime family friend
Ken Barnett of
Bloomfield Township,
referring to the practice
of helping others with
the hope that the good
will he generated would
inspire those he helped
Arthur Sills
to help others as well.
Barnett spoke to the
more than 850 people
who attended the funeral.
The service was conducted by
Rabbi Joseph Krakoff of
Congregation Shaarey Zedek, where

the Sills were mem-
"His vision in busi-
ness was only sur-
passed by the faith and
potential he recognized
in people," said friend
and partner Ari
Liebovitz of Ari-El
"He was very
heimish," said real estate
entrepreneur Matt
Lester of Birmingham.
"His door was always
open, and his advice was
always golden. A lot of
successful people would
not be where they are
today if not for Archie."
"A lot of my friends would come to

A HELPING HAND on page 124





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