David Sklar, a product of this time, grew into a survivor after life handed him a trying hand of cards. “The two biggest things I’ve tried for in life are fighting anti-Semitism and, now, supporting students –- giving them a chance to go on to UMaine, whether it’s for forestry or mechanical engineering — I’ve made no restrictions,” said Sklar of his estate bequest to the University of Maine Foundation.
Sklar’s father had come to the United States from Poland and opened a clothing store, which housed fine fabrics and luxury brands. Sklar attended the University of Maine in 1959 and became a brother of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. After graduation, Sklar took over his family’s business, “my father died when I was 21,” said Sklar, “and I could have dumped the whole business and given up, but I didn’t.”
In 1963, right out of school, Sklar continued his father’s legacy. This led Sklar on to a forty-year-long career as a successful local clothier of the Brewer-Bangor area, including outfitting many of the brothers of Beta Theta Pi and other UMaine fraternities. The first venture Sklar took beyond his father’s store was a contemporary-style boutique at the Bangor Airport mall. This store stocked clothing that ranged from men’s suits to women’s formal dresses, and everything in between. Then, in 1981, he started Coat Town, which was stocked with discount outerwear, and a Big & Tall store in the 1990s. Eventually, discount stores like Sears and J.C. Penny moved into the mall and offered very competitive prices to Sklar’s stores, and, in 2002, Coat Town closed.
“In the end,” said Sklar, “it’s not about the amount of money, but about how I got to where I am. I wanted to do something to make a lasting legacy, and I think this $1 million gift will do that.”
Sklar worked with giving officers at the University of Maine Foundation to figure out a way to give that fit his budget and lifestyle. He is now a member of the Charles F. Allen Legacy Society, and will be creating a lasting gift to benefit generations of UMaine students. His successes began, however, with a Bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising from the University of Maine, which he credits, along with his experiences at UMaine and Beta Theta Pi, as shaping his life and career.
Now, Sklar lives in Florida full-time, and spends many afternoons working as a wine specialist in local grocery stores. June 2016 marks his 75th birthday.