The life story of Frank Sklar, founder of the old Foto Hut photography chain, was like that of a Horatio Alger tale, working his way to success and never forgetting those he loved on the way up, according to family and friends.
Mr. Sklar, of Oakland, died Tuesday of cancer in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 88.
Mr. Sklar was born in McKeesport on March 22, 1921, the son of Benjamin and Anna Sklar.
"Frank loved and lived his life to the fullest, and always enjoyed the company of good friends and family," said Ken and Barb Buettner. Mr. Buettner was Mr. Sklar's nephew.
"His favorite saying was 'I'd rather be lucky than smart,' but don't let that fool you," they said. "He was a respected and intelligent businessman, and was always a gentleman."
The Buettners' said he was a mentor to many relatives and friends "and was always there to give you some good advice and point you in the right direction. He demanded the best of those around him and gave the best of himself."
Former Allegheny County Commissioner Larry Dunn, who counted Mr. Sklar as one of his friends, said that Mr. Sklar was 'a very dynamic, caring person. He really cared about Allegheny County and its people."
Mr. Sklar started his first business in 1941, called the Kiddieland Studios in Pittsburgh. It grew to Castle Studios, then Tiny Tot Studios, and Alan Studios. The studios operated from Maine to Texas with photo processing plants in Boston, Maryland, Pittsburgh and Houston.
He opened his first camera store, Camera Exchange Inc., in 1948, and in 1972, he started the former Foto Hut chain, which grew to several full-line photo stores. The chain is no longer in business.
Mr. Sklar also had an extensive civic career, which included service in a long list of organizations. Among them, he served as a member and past president of the Amen Corner, a Downtown social and civic organization.
Survivors include his wife, Florence; and two sisters, Elaine Buettner of Boynton Beach, Fla., and Nancy Morgan of Canonsburg.
Visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow and Sunday at William Slater II Funeral Service, 1650 Greentree Road, Scott. Funeral services will be held at 10:30 a.m. Monday at the funeral home.
Don Hammonds can be reached at 412-263-1538 or firstname.lastname@example.org .