by Karen Alberg Grossman

MR is greatly saddened to report the passing of beloved retailer Carl Slesinger, age 83, following a seven-year battle with cancer. He died on February 23, 2022 in Naples, Florida. He is survived by his wife and soulmate of 61 years, Carol, daughter, Lisa (Sheldon Wigdor), son, Jon (Randy Cole), sister, Joan (Michael Logghe) and the best granddaughter ever, Lauren Michael. He was preceded in death by his parents, Beti Weitzner Slesinger and Harry Slesinger. He truly adored his extended New Mexico and Washington DC families, including treasured aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. 

According to those who knew him best, Carl never complained, had an innate and genuine charm, exuded kindness, and made everyone who knew him feel truly special. He was witty, vibrant, and terrific fun – whether at home, work or play. Friends and family will most miss his unique sense of humor and his genuine appreciation of those in his presence. 

Says Wally Naymon of Kilgore Trout in Cleveland, “Carl was one of the true gentlemen in our business. The welcome I received from Carl and Dick Kapelson when I joined the Forum group so many years ago made me feel like a part of the family. What a wealth of experience he would openly share (when asked), always making you feel that your perspective was welcomed and valued. I will very much miss my neighbor from down the turnpike…”

Jack Mitchell of Mitchell Stores was another close friend: “Carl was the historian of the Forum Group and would share all the wonderful stores his dad (one of the Forum founders) had told him. In those days, the leaders/buyers of all these great stores would travel by train to New York City, starting with Hawaii and California stores, adding Kansas City, Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh along the way. They met up, had a few drinks together, and shared ideas, anecdotes, advice, both professional and personal. Then they did it all again on the return trip west… What fun and valuable stories were told; what lasting friendships were built and nurtured. I have incredible memories from our scuba diving adventures in the Caribbean…”

Says David Rubenstein of Rubenstein’s in New Orleans: “It is impossible to sum up Carl Slesinger in a few words. He was such a special friend to so many people, in a way that was unique to each one. He was a true ‘people person,’ always available to share advice (both business and personal) and always with an uplifting smile. He was one of those icons who everyone loved and respected. I will surely miss him.”

Carl was a graduate of Mercersburg Academy and the University of Pittsburgh, with a degree in Business Administration. During college, Carl worked at Larrimor’s and then joined Harry Slesinger as the second generation owner of the store, located in the Union Trust Building for 70 years before moving to One PNC Plaza in 2009. He loved his work and took great joy in helping others, including his work family, and the many clients and industry peers who would become friends over the decades. 

Carl served on the Board of Directors for the Menswear Retailers of America for six years, and on the Executive Committee for three years. He was also a member of the Forum group, and served a term as President. He was most proud of Larrimor’s repeated recognition on Esquire’s list of The Best Stores in America.

Carl served six years in the Air National Guard, during the Berlin Blockade and the Cuban Missile Crises. He was a terrific athlete, playing soccer in High School and coaching the Middle School soccer club in Fox Chapel. He was a talented and avid golfer, but chose to use days off for more time with his young family. At age 50, he became a certified SCUBA diver, and enjoyed diving on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, as well as diving the Cayman Islands and South Florida. He was also a Duquesne Club member in Pittsburgh, and enjoyed the Key Biscayne Yacht Club and Club Pelican Bay in Naples. 

Carl’s daughter Lisa has clearly inherited her dad’s positive attitude. “We were lucky to have had much more time with my dad than we expected after his first diagnosis. Aside from being a most wonderful father, he was an incredible human, husband to my Mom, and teacher to so many! Our team, and countless others in our industry (many of whom he grew up with, others who he met on their journeys) are saddened by this loss. I will miss my mentor, guide, friend, and father — how could a girl get so lucky?”

A virtual memorial service will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions to either The Children’s Home of Pittsburgh or Avow Hospice of Naples would be greatly appreciated.

2 Replies to “TRIBUTE: JON CARL SLESINGER SR, MAY 4, 1938-FEBRUARY 23, 2022 ”

  1. As an almost Pittsburgh native, and a friend of the Slesinger family for most of my life, Carl and Carol touched my heart in many ways and quietly taught me so much. Generous with their time, their advice, their love for my mother, and the silent but watchful eye over me, I am eternally grateful.

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