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updated: 3/3/2014 5:45 PM

Barrington "ambassador" Harold Lipofsky, 91, dies

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  • Harold Lipofsky took over Lipofsky's Department Store in Barrington when he returned from service in World War II.

      Harold Lipofsky took over Lipofsky's Department Store in Barrington when he returned from service in World War II.
    Courtesy of the Lipofsky Family

  • Harold Lipofsky, who served as president of Barrington VFW Post 7706, during a Memorial Day service in 2005.

      Harold Lipofsky, who served as president of Barrington VFW Post 7706, during a Memorial Day service in 2005.
    Daily Herald File Photo

By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent

The village of Barrington lost one of its biggest ambassadors last week with the passing of Harold Lipofsky.

The former owner of Lipofsky`s Department Store, which anchored a corner in the village's downtown for more than 100 years, died Friday. He was 91.

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"He loved being involved in the community and he loved getting other business leaders involved," said Alexis Portugal, president of the Barrington Rotary Club, which Lipofsky founded in 1960,

Lipofsky's family came to the village in the 19th century. His father, Samuel, was an immigrant from Riga, Latvia, who sold small goods, from the back of his wagon throughout northern Illinois, until he was able to obtain a small building.

What started in 1896 as S. Lipofsky & Sons, became Lipofsky's Department Store when Harold took over from his father and brothers after returning from service in World War II.

"For many years, Lipofsky's was the major destination area in Barrington," said Norval Stephens, a longtime resident and community volunteer.

The store was one of the longest owned, family businesses in Barrington, and as a prominent business owner Lipofsky was active in many civic organizations.

Besides the Rotary Club -- in which he had perfect attendance -- Lipofsky served as a Barrington village trustee from 1975 to 1979, was a founding member of the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce in 1969 and was active with scouting in the Barrington area.

Stephens said Lipofsky and his fathers and brothers built the Roy Wilmering Scout Cabin in 1934, which is located in Miller Park and still used by both Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops. The cabin was one of the main beneficiaries of the Harold Lipofsky Endowment Fund, created by the Rotary Club and maintained to help support local charities.

In 1989, fire engulfed the family department store and destroyed the building. As devastating as the loss of the business was, Lipofsky remained active in the community. His contributions were reflected in the naming of the downtown quadrant at Cook and Main streets "Harold Square."

"His commitment to the community, both as a business leader and as an individual, were both steadfast and solid," said Barrington Township Supervisor Gene Dawson.

Larry Barnett, a Rotary Club member, described Lipofsky as a "quiet member" in recent years, but no less committed to the organization and its mission of service.

"Harold was a tower of strength in Rotary, Scouting and in the Barrington community," Barnett said. "He will be missed by many."

In more recent years, Lipofsky continued to attend Rotary meetings and was a regular at the club's brat tent over the July Fourth weekend. some of the proceeds from the village's Fourth of July festival go to the Harold Lipofsky Fund, which assists Barrington area organizations and projects.

"He was always there to greet people," Portugal said. "He was one of our best ambassadors."

Lipofsky, a graduate of Barrington High School, never married. Graveside services will take place at 2:30 p.m. Friday at Zion Gardens, 3600 N. Narragansett Ave. in Chicago

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