Irvin J. Borowsky, Founder of North American Publishing Company, Passes at Age 90
Irvin J. Borowsky, the distinguished publisher and philanthropist who founded North American Publishing Company (NAPCO), the parent company of Publishing Executive and Book Business magazines, died November 25 in Philadelphia, days after his 90th birthday.
Borowsky had long-established roots in the printing and publishing communities. Known as "Mr. B," Irvin Borowsky was born in Philadelphia in 1924, the youngest of nine children born to Polish immigrants. He started a printing business called City Wide Press at the age of 14, after answering an ad in Popular Mechanics for a $5 printing press. Borowsky's next company, founded after World War II, sold custom storage equipment to major newspapers of the day. His first foray into publishing was in 1948 with TV Digest, a publication of local TV programs listings. Capitalizing on the then-nascent technology, the publication was acquired and eventually became TV Guide.
Borowsky founded NAPCO in 1958, following the sale of the TV listings magazine to Walter Annenberg. The company's first magazine was Printing Impressions, and its stable of magazines grew to over 20 in the 1970s. A printer himself, Borowsky launched Printing Impressions into an industry already served by a dozen graphic arts industry publications. According to Printing Impressions editor-in-chief, Mark Michelson, "The fact that Printing Impressions remains strong, while its competitors have largely disappeared, is a testament to his vision."
Borowsky stepped away from the day-to-day operations of NAPCO in the early 1980s, devoting his primary energies to philanthropy. His legacy has been continued by his son, Ned Borowsky, NAPCO's long-time president, more recently named vice chairman.
The elder Borowsky founded the American Interfaith Institute in 1982 and the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia in 2000, two organizations that foster scholarly study, research, and educational initiatives within a framework of exhibitions, symposia, teaching programs, and publishing.
"For those of you who didn't know Mr. B, he lived a very accomplished life and left this earth with a legacy that will live on for years to come," said Dave Leskusky, president of NAPCO, in a letter to employees. "I'm not sure if he was a more accomplished entrepreneur or philanthropist but he was great at both. He followed his dreams, worked hard, went where he wanted to go, and lived life on his terms."
Borowsky had been at the cutting edge of interfaith dialogue and biblical research, and a leader in cross-cultural understanding. He edited and published 16 books relating to these issues. In 2014 Drexel University awarded the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, in recognition of his dedication to education and understanding.
Borowsky's funeral was held Friday.
Read more about Irvin Borowsky's life:
Printing Impressions: Printing Impressions, NAPCO Mourn Loss of Founder Irvin J. Borowsky
Philadelphia Daily News: Irvin Borowsky, 90, publisher and philanthropist