Native Israeli Zvi (Bob) Liberman longed to become an American entrepreneur and to raise his family in peace after fighting in two wars.
Liberman, who became a successful real estate developer in Apple Valley and a purveyor of liquidated goods, died of complications of chronic leukemia on Aug. 20 in Robbinsdale.
He was 75.
"All his life he dreamed of coming to America," said his son, Ziv of Medina. "He was so "proud" when in 1974, he and his family were sworn in as American citizens.
"He believed becoming an American was his greatest accomplishment," after helping his wife, Miriam, raise his family, said his son.
When Liberman was a teenager growing up in Rehovot, Israel, he got into trouble while resisting British authorities.
When war broke out after the establishment of Israel in 1948, he fought in the fledgling Israeli military.
"He dropped grenades out of the window of a single-engine aircraft," said his son.
He barely escaped death during the Sinai War with Egypt in 1956.
Liberman had a good job with a bus company, but sold used cars in hopes of realizing his dream of being an independent businessman.
Tired of war, and the lack of business opportunity, he brought his family to America in 1966, soon settling in Minneapolis.
He worked in a tire center, and once again bought and sold cars. Later, he went to work for Pilgrim Dry Cleaning, rising to general manager.
Around 1970, he teamed up with Marshall Lifson of the Twin Cities to develop commercial, retail and residential properties in Apple Valley.
"He didn't understand fear," said his son.
He got the idea to be a merchant of liquidated goods around 1980. He was shopping at a business about to close, when the store's manager wondered how he was going to move all his goods in a few days.
Liberman's liquidation business was born when he bought the goods for pennies on the dollar, said his son.
Eventually Liberman would open Liquidation Center stores in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Hopkins.
The firm is now named Libra Co., run by his sons, and is a national wholesaler of liquidated goods.
His longtime banker and friend, Jerry Welle, vice president of commercial banking for US Bank, called him a "masterful negotiator."
"He had a warm, glowing personality," making it difficult for the other party to refuse him, Welle said.
"It took a long time to finalize deals, but once you shook hands with Bob, his word was as good as gold," Welle said.
Once, he purchased commercial property, and the appraiser called Welle to say the purchase price must be incorrect in the contract. Not so, Welle and the appraiser discovered. Liberman bought the property for 20 percent below market value.
"He'd say to me: 'Welle, it's all in the buy.'"
In addition to Ziv and his wife of 51 years, Miriam, he is survived by a son, Lee of St. Louis Park; daughter, Ronit of Los Angeles; sister, Devora Shargal of Israel, and four grandchildren.
Services have been held.