Courtesy George Greenberg
George Greenberg (1915-2007), owner of Pioneer Linens, was born in Lake Worth. His Austrian father, Max Greenberg, founded Pioneer Hardware in 1912, providing settlers to the new town whatever they needed, including furniture. The 1928 hurricane removed the second floor of their home and destroyed the stores, but in 1930, on his name alone, Max Greenberg reopened on Clematis Street. The business is still there, named Pioneer Linens since the 1950s.
Greenberg worked in his father’s store from age 16 but took time for college and law school at the University of Florida, followed by the New York University School of Retailing. During World War II, Greenberg served in an army research unit in Virginia.
When he took over Pioneer Linens in 1957, Greenberg followed his father’s progressive thinking. Unable to compete with national department stores, Greenberg changed the nature of the store to a specialty boutique and added a mail order catalog. Greenberg helped found the Downtown Development Authority (DDA); thirty years later, the DDA named him its first “Outstanding Downtown Business Leader of the Year.” George was also affectionately known as the “Mayor of Clematis Street” for his championing of the business district. Nationally, Greenberg received a lifetime achievement award from the Home Products Association.
During the 1980s and ‘90s, Greenberg took Pioneer Linens to the highest-end market and brought his daughter, Penny Murphy, into the business, with her son, Allen, preparing to follow. The addition of a website was consistent with Greenberg’s progressiveness. For his focus on providing impeccable service, he has been called “a retailing relic, an anachronism in a self-service world.”
Although Greenberg always looked forward, he loved history and was an active supporter of the Historical Society of Palm Beach County.