Yossi Shachnovitz, a longtime employee at Elie Tahari Ltd. and a close confidante of the designer, died of cancer. He was 55.

A native of Vilna, Lithuania, Shachnovitz emigrated to Israel with his family at age nine and came to the U.S. in 1986. He started working for Tahari shortly after arriving.

“One day Yossi called me after reading an article about me in a local newspaper,” Elie Tahari recalled. “He said he wanted to work for me. It was a Saturday, and I asked him to come up and talk. I was immediately impressed with his intelligence and integrity. He started in the company as a production assistant, and rose to become the president of production for the entire business.”

In the early Nineties, Shachnovitz also had a stint as vice president of manufacturing for Ellen Tracy. He eventually returned to Tahari, where he oversaw the production for women’s, men’s and accessories, and internally also served as a mentor to his co-workers.

“We were together for almost 30 years and he was like a member of my family,” Tahari said. “He was incredibly generous with his knowledge and had such a giving spirit. He was such a special person and saw the true character and individuality in all of us.”

Shachnovitz is survived by his wife, Sura, and children Sivan, Itzhak, Barak and Batsheva. A memorial service was held Saturday in Fair Lawn, N.J.

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