STONE, IRVING I. (5 Apr. 1909-17 Jan. 2000) was the founding chairman of AMERICAN GREETINGS CORP. who transformed a family business into a Fortune 300 company. Stone was born in Cleveland to Jennie (Kantor) and JACOB J. SAPIRSTEIN, who started the Sapirstein Greeting Card Company. At five Stone started working in the family business. The business sold picture postcards from the back of a horse-drawn wagon, maintaining its entire inventory in the family's living room. When his father became ill in 1919, Stone, nine at the time, handled the entire business. At twelve he was in charge of the company's books.
Stone worked his way through college - attending both Western Reserve University (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY) and the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF ART. Unhappy with the card designs the company was buying, Stone directed the company to begin designing and printing its own cards in the 1930s. This gave rise to the American Greetings Creative Department, which remains one of the biggest art studios in the United States, with 400 artists and writers producing some 20,000 designs a year. Stone served as the department's editor, writer, art director and manager. One of his early card designs, "From Someone Who Likes to Remember Someone Too Nice to Forget," has sold more cards than any other in the company's repertory and remains in the line. Stone's early designs were printed and they sold quickly, leading to the rapid geographic expansion of American Greeting's marketing reach.
Stone became president of American Greetings in 1960, succeeding his father, and became chairman and chief executive in 1978. Into his 80s Stone had the ultimate say in every card verse - taking hundreds of them home with him each weekend. In 1992 Stone assumed the titles founder-chairman and chairman of the executive committee. At his death, American Greetings Corp., headquartered in the Cleveland suburb of BROOKLYN, listed its annual sales at $2.2 billion, employed more than 21,000 people, and sent its products to 75 countries around the world. The company ranked second to the industry leader, Hallmark.
Stone was active in many civic and JEWISH organizations. He was chairman of the HEBREW ACADEMY of Cleveland, a trustee of the Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, and a vice president of the American Association for Jewish Education.
Stone married his first wife, Beatrice (Wieder) in 1931. Together they had four children: Hensha S. Gansbourg, Myrna S. Tater, Judith S. Weiss, and Neil. Following the death of his first wife in 1976, Stone married Helen (Sill) in 1977. Stone died at UNIVERSITY HOSPITALS and is buried at Zion Memorial Park (Young Israel Section), MAPLE HTS., OH.