Star Furniture Chairman Melvyn Wolff dies at 86

HOUSTON – The community is mourning a community icon, Star Furniture Chairman Melvyn Wolff.

Wolff died overnight Wednesday at the age of 86. 

He not only changed the furniture scene here in Houston, but also made a huge impact on our city. 

Wolff was the child of immigrants who came to the U.S. in 1915 after escaping a Russian labor camp. He took over the furniture business after his father became ill.

Wolff transformed a small, family-owned store into one of the most successful retail furniture operations in the United States -- Star Furniture. Star was sold to Berkshire Hathaway in 1997, but Wolff kept his full-time job as chairman.

Every day he was in town until his final days, he went to the office, dressed impeccably in clothes he had laid out the night before. To the end, he continued to build, encourage and inspire the wonderful Star team of 750 in four Texas cities. 

“Melvyn had three families -- his family, his Star Furniture family, and his dear friends,” the company said in a written statement. “Each was tied for first place. And, each will miss him, his remarkable presence and enduring contributions to each of them and the greater community. He was and will always be an icon to everyone he touched."

Bill Ward the president of Star Furniture said Wolff led the team that changed the company.

“They took the store from virtually nothing, a few small stores on the east side of Houston to and built us into 11 showrooms today," Ward said.

Melvyn proudly served as a beacon in the community and quietly gave back to many causes.

The Cyvia and Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston's Bauer School quickly became a leading institution and is frequently ranked first in the nation by the Princeton Review.

He is a past president of Congregation Beth Israel and a past vice president of the American Cancer Society.

The Houston businessman was known for giving back to the community, and played an important role in KPRC 2’s first Houston Habitat for Humanity build in 2014.

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