Douglas Bloom was active in a wide-ranging list of Jewish organizations and held several leadership positions.
With his signature bowties, colorful round glasses and magnetic smile, Douglas Bloom was a successful businessman, a generous philanthropist and a charismatic leader who advanced the causes of numerous organizations in his beloved Jewish community. Douglas, who lived in Birmingham with his wife, Barbara, died on July 22, 2021, at age 82.
Born in Detroit in 1938, Douglas was the son of Josephine, an accomplished artist and community activist, and Arthur, the city’s first Jewish radiologist. From an early age, Douglas and his older brother, John, learned the importance of Judaism and community involvement from their parents and large extended family.
After graduating from Mumford High School, Douglas earned a degree in business administration from the University of Michigan and remained a diehard Wolverine throughout his life. After college, he began working for his uncle’s auto parts company, sweeping floors and operating the switchboard. His exceptional business acumen and commendable work ethic enabled him to progress until he was running the company.
When his uncle retired and left the business to a foundation, his entrepreneurial spirit led him to found Bar Processing, which, under his leadership, became the largest steel bar processing company in the country.
While he expected his employees to adhere to the highest quality standards, he was a generous boss who cared about the people who worked for him. He believed the key to success was hiring the right people and allowing them to do their jobs.
At age 38, he was reintroduced to Barbara, a former Mumford classmate. Nine weeks after their first date, they were married.
“I had never met anyone like Douglas. He was interested in people, active, curious and very much alive,” said Barbara.
The couple and their children formed a loving blended family that grew to include their sons’ wives and eight grandchildren, who were the lights of their lives. Barbara shared her husband’s commitment to Judaism and community involvement, along with his love of art, travel and gardening.
“We introduced each other to different worlds, different people and different kinds of art,” Barbara said. “He brought a lot of life to my life that had never existed before. We were a good team.”
With Barbara’s encouragement, Douglas re-ignited his lifelong love of model trains that began decades earlier when he worked in a store selling train sets. He pursued his hobby with a passion that culminated in 1,800 square feet of tracks filled with true-to-life trains and surrounded by detailed neighborhoods that included gas stations, restaurants and a drive-in movie with a working screen.
His son, David, describes his father as a “self-made man” who was wise, insightful and pragmatic.
“He knew when to stand firm, when to forge ahead and when to walk away. He built his business like he grew his trains, by laying more track,” said David, who has fond memories of attending local sporting events and visiting art museums and galleries across the country with his father.
At the age of 60, after deciding to become a bar mitzvah, Douglas began studying Hebrew and learning Torah to prepare for the upcoming ceremony.
He was active in a wide-ranging list of Jewish organizations and held several leadership positions. Most notably, he was president of the Jewish Community Center and served two terms as president of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.
He served many other agencies and organizations that included Temple Beth El, Jewish Senior Life, the Neighborhood Project, Jewish Vocational Service and the Jewish Chautauqua Society.
A generous supporter of numerous causes, one of his favorites was the annual Barbara and Douglas Bloom Matzah Factory at the JCC. He and Barbara also sponsored the Acts of Loving Kindness Fund, which helps seniors living in Fleischman Residence, and a fund for single parents of children with special needs at Temple Israel.
In 2018, he received the coveted Fred M. Butzel Award for distinguished community service, Federation’s highest honor for volunteer leadership. The following year, he was an honoree in the annual Eight Over Eighty ceremony sponsored by Jewish Senior Life.
Douglas Bloom is survived by his beloved wife, Barbara Bloom; cherished children, David (Boksook) Bloom, Matthew (Becky) Zuckerberg and Andrew (Denise) Zuckerberg; and loving grandchildren Rachel (fiance Lucas Niewenhuis) Bloom, Sarah Bloom, Ashley (Alek) Mead, Claire Zuckerberg, Ben Zuckerberg, Lauren (Stu) Cooper, Erik (Andrew Derr) Rasmussen and Alex Rasmussen.
He was the devoted brother of the late John Bloom and the brother-in-law of the late Ruth Ann Shapiro.
He will also be missed by many other dear relatives and friends, as well as his dedicated caregivers, Glennis, Mariama, Charles, Abena, Ama and Martha.
Interment was at Clover Hill Park Cemetery. Contributions may be made to Cure PSP, 1206 Broadway, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001, (800) 457-4777, www.psp.org; or Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, 6735 Telegraph, Bloomfield Hills; or Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit, 6710 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield, MI 48322, (248) 592-5026, www.jslmi.org; or a Jewish charity of one’s choice. Arrangements by Ira Kaufman Chapel.