Manfred Selig, 89; Fled Nazi Germany And Become Businessman, Art Collector
If Oct. 14, 1940, had been a cloudy day here, Manfred Selig would have floated down the coast to San Francisco in his flight from the Holocaust.
But a bit of sun prompted him to get off a ship and make Seattle his home. Subsequent years revealed the area's penchant for rain, but Selig remained until he died Friday (July 24) at the age of 89.
Born in Buchen, Germany, in 1902, Mr. Selig spent his childhood and youth in northern Germany with his mother and father, a horse-trader.
Upon graduating from high school, he ventured into the textile business. His first job involved selling fabric for a textile factory outlet.
After he got married in 1932, Mr. Selig and his father-in-law became partners and began running a small department store in Arnstein.
One day in 1939, a neighbor informed Mr. Selig, who was Jewish, that the Nazis had labeled him an undesirable. Mr. Selig, his wife and two children immediately left their home. The following day, the Nazis converged on the Selig home and business and confiscated them.
The family hid in warehouse basements in Frankfurt until Mr. Selig arranged safe passage out of the country. Their exodus took them through Poland, the Soviet Union and Japan, where they boarded a steam ship for the United States.
"My parents' destination was San Francisco," said Mr. Selig's son, Seattle developer Martin Selig. "They never made it. They stopped in Seattle on Oct. 14, 1940, and it was a nice sunny day and they said: `Let's get off this ship.' They liked the city."
"They brought nothing with them," said Martin, who was 4 at the time. "Their luggage was shipped out through Holland, but it was confiscated. He came to America with only a few gold coins in the hollowed-out heels of his shoes."
In Seattle, Mr. Selig applied himself at the only thing he knew: the merchandising business. To make ends meet, both he and his wife sold pillow cases and tablecloths door-to-door.
After a short time, they were able to open a small shop at 23rd Avenue and Jackson Street. They named it "Selig's Linen Shop," and operated it for eight years.
Mr. Selig next went into the children's clothing business. He distributed "Empire Children's Wear" throughout the Northwest until 1965, when he retired.
While becoming a successful businessman here, Mr. Selig turned into an avid art collector, especially of Northwest artists.
Services for Mr. Selig were to be held today through the Seattle Jewish Chapel at the Bikur Cholim Cemetery. He is survived by his wife, Laura Selig of Seattle; his daughter, Bertelle Buschke of New York City; and a son, Martin Selig of Seattle.
Published Correction Date: 07/28/92 - This Obituary Reported The Wrong Date For The Funeral Service For Manfred Selig, A Local Businessman And Art Collector Who Died Friday. The Service Was Held Sunday.
Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.