"They gave him some artwork because they were so grateful," she said. Among the pieces was a six-foot-long silk wall hanging.
"I've seen them in the Philadelphia Museum of Art," she said, "and I've said, ‘Mine is prettier than that.'?"
Born in Baltimore, Mr. Sapperstein was a pump man on a Merchant Marine oil tanker in the South Pacific during World War II.
"He was based in Australia before the Okinawa invasion," his wife said, and while his ship was on its way to fuel the invading armada, it was hit by a storm that forced it to return to the United States a few months before the end of the war. Mr. Sapperstein completed his Merchant Marine enlistment on another ship delivering civilian supplies to India.
When Mr. Sapperstein's family unsuccessfully expanded its lumber supply business to Philadelphia, he opened two firms in Conshohocken — the wholesale distributor Canadian Forest Products and the retailer Lumberjacks.
In the 1960s, he helped open a Northeast Philadelphia firm, Mr. Plywood, which, his wife said, won him the admirers in Japan.
"Even when he was in the lumber business, he was an entrepreneur in commercial real estate," his wife said.
In the 1980s, he became a partner in Penn's Grant Corp., based in Doylestown, which built office condominiums in central Bucks County and South Jersey. In 1986, he opened Penn's Grant Realty Corp.
His final Doylestown-based firm, his wife said, was R&G Properties.
Since the 1970s, Mr. Sapperstein had had a private pilot's license.
"One of the people he loaned money, they gave him a plane in payment, and he said, ‘Off I go.'?" his wife said. "He was flying until he had his first stroke in 2005."
He was a member of the aeronautical group known as the Quiet Birdmen.
Besides his wife of 35 years, Mr. Sapperstein is survived by daughters Gail Druzak, Susan and Mimi Lipson, and Tracy Byrne; nine grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His first wife, Dolores, died in 1977.
A life celebration was set for 11 a.m. Sunday, June 10, at the Joseph A. Fluehr III Funeral Home, 241 E. Butler Ave., New Britain, with private interment.
Contact Walter F. Naedele at 215-854-5607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.