Harold Sanford Zalkind, a veteran of World War II and the former owner of Belle Cleaners in Rye, N.Y., passed away after a brief illness on May 11, 2021, at his home in Amherst, Mass., surrounded by his family. He was 96.
Born in Chicago on January 25, 1925, Hal, as he was known, grew up in the Bronx. He met the love of his life, Shirley Wolfson, who lived across the street on East Gun Hill Road, when they were 13. He was a star athlete, winning trophies for golf and tennis at DeWitt Clinton High School.
After graduating from high school in 1942, he enlisted in the Air Force and enrolled in the Army Specialized Training Program at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. As the war escalated in 1944, all those enlisted were transferred into the Army, no matter their training. Mr. Zalkind was assigned to the 26th Division of the 101st Infantry Regiment, of the Massachusetts National Guard, and sent to Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C. for training. While there, Shirley traveled alone by train from New York to meet him so they could marry before he went overseas.
Stationed in Europe, shortly before the Battle of the Bulge, Mr. Zalkind was wounded by sniper fire and hospitalized. At home in New York, Mrs. Zalkind received his army duffle bag containing his bloodied uniform without any information about his health or whereabouts. The news of his survival did not come until months later. Hal Zalkind was honored with a Purple Heart for his service.
Upon returning from the war, he joined his brother-in-law in partnership in the family dry-cleaning and laundry business. They moved the business, Belle Cleaners, from the Bronx to Rye. Hal and Shirley followed the business, first living in Port Chester, where they started their family, and then to Rye in 1967.
Mr. Zalkind was an avid gardener who turned his home into a floral paradise that inspired all who visited. He volunteered at the Rye Nature Center and developed an interest in environmentalism. Mrs. Zalkind, an art teacher, painted many of her husband’s garden treasures in watercolor and the paintings decorated their homes in both Rye and Amherst.
An avid deep-sea fisherman, he enjoyed fishing off the coast of Monhegan Island, Maine. The Zalkinds spent many of their retirement years wintering on St. Martin, where he played competitive tennis player well into his late 80s.
In 2013, after Hurricane Sandy, Hal and Shirley moved to Amherst to live with their daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Zalkind remarked he had come full circle from his time at Clark, back to Massachusetts.
Hal Zalkind was predeceased by his son Robert in 1983. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Shirley Zalkind; his daughter Nina Zalkind Tetenbaum and son-in-law Don Tetenbaum; his grandsons Joshua and Noah Tetenbaum; and his granddaughter-in-law Jennie Rose Halperin.
He was loved and admired by his extended family and the many friends he and his wife acquired throughout their long life together.
Donations in Harold Zalkind’s memory may be made to the Jewish Climate Initiative (https://www.interfaithsustain.com/jewish-climate-initiative/), or Cooley Dickinson VNA and Hospice .