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In Memoriam: Sam Fink, 1916 – 2011

In Memoriam: Sam Fink, 1916 – 2011

He brought together text and context in inimitable ways, in his love and mastery of lettering and his deep curiosity about the ideas created by letters and words.

Sam Fink contributed his art to one of our early issues of Text/Context, on Language—his painted letters were on the cover and inside as well—and we won our first Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association for that issue. And he was a reader and frequent correspondent, commenting on the articles and design. It was a pleasure to receive his enthusiastic, illustrated notes in hand-painted envelopes, each its own work of art.

Fink, who learned hand lettering from his father, spent more than 20 years as an art director at the advertising agency Young & Rubicam. Over the last 25 years, he inscribed and illustrated great texts of American history, as well as the books of the Torah. For Fink the Hebrew letters were “made of fire, flames and tears.”

When I first met him in 2008, he expressed much gratitude for his recent publishing successes, and said, “I don’t want to say that God is looking after me.
I don’t know about God. It’s all a mystery. Things that go on in my life leave only questions. The questions are my holiness. I don’t need an answer.”

“We’ve all had tragedies,
disappointments, upsets,” Fink, then 91, said. “All in all, I’ve had a great ride.” – S.B.