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Everybody’s Port: June 28, 2013

Jerome J. Weinstein: His Impact Lives 

To identify the late Jerome Weinstein as a politician is akin to historians identifying Thomas Jefferson as a Virginia farmer. Jefferson, in a mundane sense, was a Virginia farmer. Jerry Weinstein was never a politician. 

 

But how would you know that? You wouldn’t. The emphasis on Jerry’s passing has been on his success in elective office. That accentuates the wrong positive. And as one who knew him for some 50 years, I want to shout out loud that Jerome Weinstein was no mere mortal. In a roundabout way, his life had an impact on your life and mine. Just how and why? Read on.

 

First, a snapshot of Jerry’s background: Harvard studies interrupted by WWII; honorably discharged from the U.S. Army; returned to and graduated from Harvard; joined flexible plastics company founded by father, Robert, in 1926. If it hadn’t been for Jerry’s visionary stewardship of the original Apex Coated Fabrics in the 70s and 80s, he might never have put even a timid toe on the doorstep of politics.

 

When Jerry met and courted the lovely Marjorie Ann Farb, a Bryn Mawr College student at the time, the fact that she was only 17 didn’t stop Jerry. Fortunately, there were no parental objections, and they were married. Marjorie was still 17. They remained happily married for nearly 62 years.

 

That said, it is only fitting and proper that I tell you Marjorie is one exceptionally bright, intelligent and articulate woman. No shrinking violet, she is honest and self-assured and sometimes given to subtle and not-so-subtle sarcasm, smilingly said. Always a lady. And always supportive of her husband.

 

Back to how Jerry Weinstein has affected our lives. To do that, he became a kind of plastics pioneer. Instead of waiting until the new technology in flexible plastics created in post-WWII Japan found its way to the USA, he went to Japan and learned about it first-hand. He traveled back and forth to that country much like an LIRR commuter. 

 

Jerry, as a practical visionary, understood the changes that would eventually transform a limited consumer-focused manufacturing effort to a much larger and faster-moving mass-market with a broader plastics products focus.  

 

Lest I forget, while Jerry was growing the company, he was also relocating it. From its smaller, limiting location in Manhattan, Apex was moved in total to a 30,000 square-foot building in the hinterlands of once-bucolic Suffolk County. The company was now Apex Plastic Industries, Inc.

 

So how does all that impact us? One example: the revolution in packaging. When was the last time you bought anything for personal use in a pharmacy, hardware store or supermarket that was neither shrink-wrapped nor in a blister pack? 

 

My intent here is not to demean politicians, but to redress a wrong that would have us remember Jerome J. Weinstein for what he wasn’t rather than for what he was. In its true sense of the word, he was never a politician. It’s been said that running for public office is the ultimate ego trip. Jerry never looked at it that way. He was too hung up on using his good fortune to help others. But don’t take my word for it. Ask Marjorie. 

 

See ya’ next week.