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Sulby “Saul” Pazner – 1923 – 2008

**Warning – Long Post Alert**

In the Windsor Star on Wednesday, the following obituary ran for Sulby “Saul” Panzer:

OBIT: ‘Old school’ businessman ran scrap yard
Melissa Dunne, The Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sulby Pazner was a rare breed of businessman: he did not have any fancy letters after his name, his word was as good as any legal document and he preached only buying what you could actually afford to pay for.

“He was old school, yeah,” said Pazner’s son Lawrence. “He believed in hard work, discipline, honesty and integrity.”

Pazner, who owned Pazner Scrap Metal Co. Ltd. on Droulliard Road for close to three decades, died Wednesday due to complications from cancer. He was 84. He leaves behind a wife, five children and nine grandchildren.

Born at Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital on Aug. 29, 1923, Pazner, along with his brother and sister, was raised by his grandmother.

After high school he started peddling scrap metal. He found he was good at it and soon rented space on Droulliard Road in the early 1950s.

Then, Pazner, known as “Saul” to many family and friends, invited his brother, Ben, to work with him.

In 1965 Pazner founded Pazner Scrap Metal Co. Ltd.

“He was a self-taught man,” said Barbara Cheifetz, one of Pazner’s two daughters. “He was very bright, very business-savvy.”

Pazner was the “brains” of the family business, while Ben was the “muscle” of the operation, recalled family.

He was very passionate about his work — always the first to come to work and the last to leave.

Pazner worked long hours and taught his children the business from a young age.

His business acumen seems to have rubbed off on Cheifetz and Lawrence, who now own three recycling businesses together.

“He taught us a lot,” said Cheifetz.

In what spare time he had Pazner loved to bowl, read John Grisham novels and make dill pickles.

The Pazner family recently made pickles, which Sulby had made an annual August tradition.

“We even had a slogan,” said Lawrence. “Picky people pick Pazner Pickles.”

When Pazner retired in the mid-90s he made a lot more time for hobbies.

He enjoyed his Jewish heritage, frequenting the Shaar Hashomayim Synagogue in Windsor. He lived in Florida half the year and became a bit of a “health nut,” usually walking at least three miles per day, biking, and lifting weights.

In May the octogenarian was diagnosed with cancer. Despite the diagnosis he was looking forward to throwing a big 85th birthday bash.

“he was always on about his party,” said Cheifetz.

Pazner’s funeral is set for 1 p.m. Friday at Janisse Brothers-Marcotte Funeral Homes Ltd.

© The Windsor Star 2008

I thought the name sounded familiar, and it was in a local history book I picked up at Juniper Books on Ottawa St a few months back, where I first read about Saul Pazner.

If you ever come across a copy of Alan Abrams’ book, don’t hesitate to pick it up. It was published in 1981, and is a bit hard to find.

Alan Abrams is a former Detroiter who worked for Motown Records at one time. Later in his career he worked a stint as a reporter at the Windsor Star.

It’s always interesting to read the stories of some of the characters who helped make the Border Cities what they are.

So with apologies to Mr. Abrams’, I’m borrowing some of his text below, along with a photo of Mr. Pazner:

The Pazner scrapyard covers three acres on Drouillard Road in the old Ford City area of East Windsor. It is a grimy industrial area. The yard itself is an enclave surrounded by Serbian Orthodox churches whose onion shaped domes silently challenge the piles of scrap metal for possession of the heavy grey sky.

If you live in Windsor, you know all too well that sinking feeling when your car doesn’t turn over on the winter’s coldest morning. Cursing the parentage of your car battery, you trade it in for a new one at Canadian Tire. And here, in the Pazner yard, is where your old battery (“less trade-in”) winds up. Once, Saul Pazner would have personally picked it up in his 1952 Chevy half-ton truck. Today it would look out of place in his shiny black Lincoln, which, parked in front of the yard, somehow appears to repel the blowing dust.

Saul Pazner is representative of a hardy breed who, starting as peddlers, have built successful and substantial companies. His story is unique because it can never happen again.

“I was working when I was eight years old. I used to work in a market and get a quarter a day. Then my aunt used to give my grandmother the quarter. I worked at Windsor Packing, with time out for the army, from 1938 to 1948 or 1949. Then I worked at Gotfredson’s, in the factory, for almost four years. They made Ford caps, panels, bodies. I started peddling in the scrap business while I worked in the factory. “

Pazner describes how he started peddling used batteries, eventually building up a empire that involved almost all the dead batteries from Windsor to Chatham up to Sarnia passing though his hands.

“I remember one day I was in a gas station in Walker Road looking for batteries and Paul Martin (Sr.) came into the station. He started shaking hands with everybody, and then he came over to me and said, ‘Hello Saul. How are you? How’s your family?’ I said fine. I went around for weeks telling everybody how Paul Martin knew who I was. Finally my cousin had the sense to tell me, ‘Saul, you shmuck, you were wearing your bowling shirt with your name printed on it.’. I voted for Martin anyway.

Sometimes it doesn’t take a demolition for Windsor to lose a part of its history.

RIP Saul.

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