Tuesday, January 24, 2017

George Smith Partners’ David Ari Rifkind Dies From Rare Disease

                                    David Ari Rifkind  (March 17, 1965 - January 23, 2017)

SIMI VALLEY, CA, Jan. 24, 2017 – David Ari Rifkind, a co-founder of George Smith Partners, has died at 51 from a very rare, rapidly degenerative and incurable neurological disease, the company said.

He passed away early yesterday, surrounded by his family and friends. His devotion to his family was well known, and our hearts go out to his wife Helen, his sons Aaron and Jonathan, his daughter Jillian, his sister Donna and her husband, Joe.

David will always be remembered at GSP as a kind person, generous of spirit, with no pretensions or ego.   While very successful throughout his career as an investor, broker and lender, he remained humble and sincere.

 He was a great listener and cared about what people had to say. When he spoke, we listened, because his comments and insights were thoughtful and well-informed.

David’s choice of words connoted his optimistic outlook on life. His email sign-off was “Kindly,” and when asked how he was, he always responded “delightful.” When complimenting someone on a job well done or personal achievement, he always said “fabulous.”

In our cyclical and stressful business, with highs and lows, David was always calm, deliberate and thoughtful, like a “Zen master.”   

David grew up in Encino, the son of Jesse and Thelma Rifkind.   Jesse was a key member of the legendary Xerox PARC Research Lab, which was known for developing the computer mouse and laser printer.   

Thelma had a Masters in Ornithology and was a career occupational therapist.  
 David often spoke proudly of his parents’ accomplishments and the loving and supportive upbringing they provided him and his sister.

David attended elementary school in Encino, Portola Junior High and Birmingham High School. He graduated from USC in 1987 with Bachelor of Arts Degrees in History and International Relations.  

While David was an expert in real estate and finance, David’s interests and intellectual curiosity went well beyond our business.    He was a classic “Renaissance Man:” he could discuss a wide variety of subjects including history, current events, wines, music (including jazz, rock and classical) and modern art.

 David was a savvy and discerning collector, especially of the great LA artists of the 1960s such as Ed Ruscha and others.  His childhood curiousity in photography developed into a lifetime of collecting photographic fine art as well as being an excellent photographer in his own right.
If you wanted to know where to find the best BBQ in Kansas when refueling a private plane from LA-NYC, or selecting a perfect wine with a steak meal, just ask David.

As a treasured community leader, David has been serving as Chair of the Board of Jews for Judaism, a Board Member of the Ziegler School at AJU and Ilan Ramon Day School and has been active in the Real Estate Cabinet of the Jewish Federation and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), among numerous other organizations. He ran the building committee for the Heschel Day School as they worked on a major expansion.

David’s real estate career started early.   He bought his first building at age 22, persistently “camping out” at the owner’s office until he put the project into contract.   David then assembled a capital structure with a community bank and equity that included a cash advance from his personal credit card.

David went on to own and develop multiple properties, utilizing his market knowledge and ability to command the metrics of specific markets to help him get an edge.

David and his wife, Helen, have been married for 25 years. David’s whole world revolved around his family. 

 Whether it was Aaron’s graduation from USC and landing a prestigious position at AIPAC in Washington D.C., Jonathan’s budding broadcast career at University of Oregon, or Jillian’s equestrian and photographic exploits, David reveled in his children’s success.   We admired his dedication to his family and he was a role model for us all. 

As a co-founding Principal of GSP, David was a mentor to our firm’s younger members, not just in business, but in how to live life to its fullest.

We will miss David and will never forget him.

David Rifkind…A life well lived.

The funeral for David Rifkind z”l will be held Wednesday, January 25th at 12:30 pm at Mt. Sinai Simi Valley.  The address is 6150 Mt. Sinai Drive, Simi Valley, CA  93063.  In Lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made to Jews for Judaism or the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.

For media:  Please direct all inquiries to Miki Conant, Jenn Quader, or Judy Brower at Brower, Miller & Cole.
Phone: (949) 955-7940

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