Herbert Ginensky, a New Yorker born and bred, Cadillac repairman, Brooklyn delicatessen operator, World War II combat veteran and devoted father and grandfather, died Thursday. He was living in The Watermark at Logan Square senior community center in Center City.
Herbert was known to family and friends for an off-the-wall sense of humor. His voice mails were so funny, the family collected them.
And, if you wanted to know the origin of challah, the Jewish ceremonial bread, he had a fantastic story about that, though listeners believed his stories at their own risk.
"He loved making people laugh," said his daughter, Amy B. Ginensky, a lawyer for the Center City law firm Pepper Hamilton, which often represents Interstate General Media, owner of the Daily News. "He could make stories out of nothing."
Herbert and his wife, Evelyn Tennen Ginensky, moved to Philadelphia seven years ago to be close to their children. They lived for a time in the Philadelphian.
His wife died last November at the age of 91.
Herbert was proud of his World War II Army service. He arrived on Iwo Jima in the South Pacific after the island had been taken by U.S. forces. But the shooting hadn't stopped.
He worked to build landing fields and serviced the planes. He worked so hard, he told his family, that once when he had fallen asleep in his barracks, he never heard the bombing attack that shook everybody else up.
He attained the rank of staff sergeant. He was discharged on Christmas Eve 1945.
Herbert had met his wife during the war, and they were married on July 6, 1944.
After the war, Herbert worked for a time as a Cadillac mechanic in New York before opening his delicatessen in Brooklyn. He unaccountably called it Brigham, an unusual name for a Jewish delicatessen, but, then, that was Herbert.
He was an imaginative cook. Never one to be content with the ordinary, Herbert may have been the first to invent the Pop Tart. Except that his Pop Tarts were stuffed with salami, cheese, roast beef and even peanut butter and jelly.
He also invented something he called a "knizza." It was not pizza and not a knish, but a blending of the two dishes that got rave reviews.
Manning the delicatessen was hard work. Herbert put in long hours, 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. He allowed himself one day off a month.
He sold the deli in the 1970s and managed apartment houses for a time.
After arriving in Philly, Herbert became a big fan of the Phillies and 76ers, but an even bigger fan of the Shipley School baseball team in Bryn Mawr, where his grandson, Jeremy Rogoff, was the star pitcher.
Granddad took in every game. Jeremy went on to Washington University in St. Louis, where he continued pitching.
Herbert, at the age of 91, flew to St. Louis to watch Jeremy pitch his final game for the university.
In his retirement, Herbert took up painting and started a painting class for fellow Watermark residents. Some of his paintings reflected his quirky sense of humor, including one of two bears who were engaged in friendly behavior.
As his health deteriorated, Herbert liked to watch Western movies. He was at peace when he died, his daughter said.
Besides his daughter, he is survived by a son, Steven; a sister, Natalie Glass; and three grandchildren.
Services: Were Sunday. Burial was in Haym Salomon Memorial Park.
Contributions may be made to the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children's Medical Center of New York's neonatal unit at support.northshoreLIJ.com.