Samuel Glazer, who often gifted friends with Mr. Coffee machines after his coffeemaker company became successful, died March 12 at age 89. With his longtime business partner Vincent G. Marotta Sr., Glazer developed North American Systems and began manufacturing the Mr. Coffee appliances in 1972 in Beachwood. The company, which also made filters and other items, later moved to Bedford Heights and employed more than 1,000. For 14 years, baseball legend Joe DiMaggio was the spokesman for Mr. Coffee.
“Sam Glazer and I were business partners for 60 some years and close friends longer than that,” said Marotta in a statement. Glazer and Marotta started their business selling garage doors and St. James Lumber, and they later became successful in commercial and residential building. They built Northfield Center, Independence Hall and Village Square, and then in the early 1960s, Richmond and Great Lakes Malls. Their home-building business included developments in several Northeast Ohio communities. The pair left construction to focus on Mr. Coffee.
Glazer supported what is now Cedar Sinai Synagogue, Suburban Temple-Kol Ami and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, but he preferred to give anonymously. “He’d do anything for his friends,” said Richard Green, his first accountant and friend since age 15, “and he helped a lot of people without any publicity.” For years, Glazer quietly sent checks to help a friend from school who had fallen on hard times. Dr. Richard Hirshberg, a Houston neurosurgeon Glazer consulted, became a friend and said he considered Glazer somewhat of a father figure for his wisdom and experience, despite the fact Glazer was just nine years older. “He never forgot his origins,” said Hirshberg “He never became someone else after his success.”
Glazer’s father died when he was a child, so he delivered The Plain Dealer from the time he was 7 until age 18 to help support his family. A graduate of Shaker Heights High School, he served in the U.S. Army during World War II and attended The Ohio State University. He always remembered those who had shown him kindness during his years of poverty. Early in his career, Glazer sold dog food to stores and helped his brother sell boots to steelworkers.
After Mr. Coffee, with his son he founded Glazer & Co., which developed properties around the U.S. in recent years. He was very interested in historic preservation, and while Glazer is most remembered for building malls, homes and a major company, he is known in St. Louis for what he prevented the city from tearing down: an historic building called Court Square.
Fond of driving, Glazer enjoyed cars, especially his first, a Cadillac. He spent winters in warmer climates and became friends with Johnny Carson in California.
Glazer is survived by his wife Jeanne and son Robert of Cresskill, N.J.