WMIA co-founder Bert Lewyn
WMIA co-founder Bert Lewyn

Bert Lewyn, a founding father of the Woodworking Machinery Importers Association, died in his sleep on Sunday, January 3. Lewyn was born in Berlin, Germany in 1923. A Holocaust survivor, he came to the U.S. in 1949, settling in Atlanta.

Lewyn originally founded Lewyn Machinery in 1952 as a home-based business when he began selling woodworking machinery regionally throughout the southeastern U.S. Lewyn Machinery’s success resulted in the necessity of forming an organization and acquiring office and warehouse space to move the operation out of his home.

After many years of successfully representing machinery manufacturers in the southeast, Lewyn had the foresight to recognize the coming impact of imported machinery on the industry and became one of the nation’s premier importers and distributors in the early 1970's. He also played an important role as one of the founding members of the WMIA (what became today's Woodworking Machinery Industry Association). In 1986, he sold the company to Koch Machinery, an affiliate of a German manufacturer of one of his imported lines of machinery. He continued to consult with Koch Machinery until his retirement from the industry.

In his later years, Lewyn also enjoyed research and wrote, together with his daughter-in-law, the book, On the Run in Nazi Berlin,  documenting his years during World War II in Germany. Still in print, the book has sold over ten thousand copies in several languages.

Lewyn will be most remembered for the love he had for Esther, his children and grandchildren, the admiration and love of his friends, the respect his business colleagues had for him, his dry wit, and for his fierce love and defense of the Jewish people and of Israel.

Lewyn is survived by his wife Esther Sloan Lewyn, daughters Andrea Lewyn Krakovsky and Cindy Lewyn, sons Lawrence, Marc and Michael Lewyn, son-in-law Ed Krakovsky, daughter-in-law Beverly Saltzman Lewyn, grandchildren Jake and Sloan Krakovsky, and Alexandra, Rachel, Sarah and Rebecca Lewyn.

A memorial service was held at the Temple on January 5 with Rabbi Peter Berg and Rabbi Ilan Feldman officiating. Interment followed at Arlington Memorial Park. Contributions may be made to the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust or a charity of one's choice.

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