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Joseph Wilf, father of Vikings owners, passes away at 91


The father of Minnesota Vikings owners Zygi and Mark Wilf has died.

The team announced the death of Joseph Wilf Wednesday afternoon. He was 91.

Joseph Wilf was born in Poland in 1925, and survived the Holocaust. He was married in 1949 and immigrated to the United States in 1950.

Four years later Wilf founded Garden Homes in New Jersey with his brother, Harry, and the family built the business into a prominent real estate company.

According to the Associated Press, Garden Homes is now one of the largest real estate companies in the U.S. and in Israel.

"It's incredibly inspiring to think about what Joseph Wilf overcame through tremendous courage," said Vikings Chief Operating Officer Kevin Warren in a statement. "He became a visionary leader in business who had in his heart a love for helping others."

Joseph Wilf and his brother established the Wilf Family Foundation in 1964. According to the Vikings' statement, since then, the family has increased its philanthropic contributions globally, nationally and locally, including in Minnesota with the Wilf Family Center at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital.

According to Wilf's obituary, he received many honors and awards including the Louis Brandeis Humanitarian Award of the Zionist Organization of America, the David Ben Gurion Peace medal of the Israel Bond Organization, and also received honorary degrees from Yeshiva University, Kean University and the Rabbinical College of America.

News of their father's death came at a tough time for Vikings owners' Zygi and Mark Wilf. U.S. Bank Stadium is slated to host its first event Wednesday night when Chelsea meets up with AC Milan in a European Soccer League match in the stadium.

They were also forced to miss Tuesday's groundbreaking of the Vikings new practice facility in Eagan.

Joseph Wilf is survived by Elizabeth, his wife of 67 years, sons Zygi and Mark, their spouses, nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

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