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April 23, 2014

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Originally published: 2013-05-29 12:56:22
Last modified: 2013-05-29 14:05:45

Sylvia Schaefer

Sylvia Schaefer, beloved wife of Rowland Schaefer, passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on May 26th in Florida at the age of 89.

Sylvia Schaefer was born Sylvia Isaacson in Chicago, Illinois in 1923. She married Rowland Schaefer in 1948, and moved with him and their children to Miami Beach, Fla. in 1957.

Sylvia Schaefer is credited with being the inspiration for Fashion Tress Wigs, the largest importer/exporter of wigs in the world during the late 1960's. Her husband had recently sold his vending machine business based in Atlanta, Ga., and he was looking for another business venture when Sylvia came home wearing a human hair wig, a fashion that was quickly becoming popular in the U.S. Ever the entrepreneur, the story goes that Rowland asked Sylvia, "What do I know about the wig business?" and she replied "What did you know about any of your businesses before you started them?" thereby setting the stage not only for the birth of Fashion Tress Wigs but also for the businesses that followed: Pierre Cardin Handbags and Luggage manufacturing, and eventually Claire's Stores, Inc., the largest accessory retailer in the world today.

Sylvia Schaefer was a woman not only of style, but also of great beauty, becoming a John Robert Powers model. During the heyday of Fashion Tress Wigs, she was not only a model for the wigs, but also a spokesperson for the company with a column in Good Housekeeping Magazine called, "Sylvia Says." After the sale of the wig business, she continued to work with her husband lending her artistry and creativity to his next endeavors.

Along with her husband, Sylvia Schaefer was active in many charitable organizations.

She is survived by her husband, Rowland; their three daughters, Marla (Steven), Bonnie (Jamie) and Roberta (Bruce); seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Mourners Kaddish is being played by virtuoso violinist Gil Morgenstern as part of a benefit concert for the Temple of the High Country that will honor the lives of Rowland & Sylvia Schaefer. The event will be held at 8 p.m. Saturday, June 15, 2013, at the Temple of the High Country / Schaefer Jewish Community Center, 1043 King Street, Boone, NC 28607. Tickets and more information, please call (828) 266-9777.

Donations in memory of Rowland and Sylvia Schaefer can be made to the Temple of the High Country, P.O. Box 2895, Boone, NC 28607, or to the Wien Center for Alzheimer's Disease & Memory Disorders, Mount Sinai Medical Center, 4300 Alton Road, Miami Beach, FL 33140.

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