Those closest to Jay Birnbaum described him as a no-nonsense businessman with a big heart and love for helping others.
“He was a teacher at heart,” said his son, Bernard Birnbaum. “He loved to teach and help people.”
Jay Birnbaum, a longtime fixture in the local real estate and development market, died Jan. 24. He was 65.
Mr. Birnbaum led Jay Birnbaum Co. LLC since the early 1980s, taking over the business from his father. The commercial real estate development firm is located in Pittsford.
Its portfolio over the years has included properties in five states: Florida, Kansas, Missouri, New Jersey and New York.
Locally, the company owns retail plazas in Fairport and Henrietta and an industrial property in Henrietta.
Bernard Birnbaum, a 2016 Rochester Business Journal Forty under 40 honoree, took over the day-to-day operations of the business a few years ago as his father turned his focus to teaching and investing in startup ventures.
Mr. Birnbaum had spent some two decades teaching real estate at Rochester Institute of Technology and recently had started teaching again, this time on principles of real estate at St. John Fisher, his son said.
Mr. Birnbaum also was interested in helping develop local startups and was helping launch and grow two local firms: Cerebral Assessment Systems Inc., a medical device company, and Cypher Worx Inc., which is focused on professional development and online training.
Bernard Birnbaum, who is also involved with startup ventures, said his father was fascinated with the idea of turning a concept into a marketable product. He was also a supporter of the region.
“He was proud to be a Rochesterian and wanted to do something that would create more jobs,” Bernard Birnbaum said.
Mr. Birnbaum was active in Temple Beth-El and the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester where he served on the agency’s board of governors.
Despite his commitment to the area, Mr. Birnbaum was mostly a private person, his son said.
“He wasn’t boastful and he didn’t do anything for recognition,” Bernard Birnbaum said. “He just wanted to do the right thing.”
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