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NEW YORK — Gordon Zacks, chairman of R.G. Barry Corp., the lifestyle brand he inherited from his parents and grew into a comfort giant, died Feb. 1 in his home in Bexley, Ohio, from prostate cancer. He was 80.
Zacks joined the family business in 1955 after graduating from Ohio State University. He filled various executive roles at R.G. Barry, including president and CEO, a position now held by Greg Tunney, whom Zacks recruited.“He was a mentor to many, including me,” Tunney said.
Though the shoe business was his trade, Zacks was equally passionate about sharing his leadership expertise with others.
He mentored college students by conducting seminars around the country, including at Harvard and Ohio State. “He could hold an audience spellbound without notes or script and deliver a focused and impactful message,” Tunney said.
Additionally, Zacks wrote two books — “Defining Moments: Stories of Character, Courage and Leadership,” which was published in 2006 and profiled iconic leaders; and “Redefining Moments,” an upcoming account of “end-of-life stories for better living.” “He wrote the book last month, in around 30 days,” said the executive’s daughter, Cathy Zacks Gildenhorn, also the book’s editor.
Zacks also was well-known for his educational and political activism in the Jewish community. “His knowledge and understanding of topics from leadership to geopolitical pressures were amazing, and then you realized that he listened to and learned from everyone,” Tunney said.
Zacks was preceded in death by his wife of 57 years, Carol Sue. He is survived by daughters Zacks Gildenhorn and Kim Zacks; and three grandchildren.