International businessman and philanthropist Noah Liff was a wise, generous, cultured, and patriotic self-made man who was devoted to family and community, and whose life touched many Nashvillians from the time he arrived here as a young, energetic entrepreneur in 1952.
He was hands-on in all that he did and, in that spirit, he was personally involved in just about every aspect of the arts community. He especially adored opera. He reveled in the dramatic ascent of the Nashville Opera, dreaming of the time when every seat was filled and the Opera would have a fine home. Certainly no one would have taken more delight in watching as this previously dilapidated structure was transformed into the elegant facility we see today. Noah would have thought that Earl Swensson’s vision, coupled with Dean Chase’s skill set, was miraculous. He would have celebrated the competent and creative staff and the ever-soaring productions.
A great proponent of the “Teach a man to fish” theory, Noah would find it especially fitting that the new Opera Center has a shop for the building of costumes and sets, a splendid practice facility available to the artistic community, as well as the capability of rental space, which will also become an income source.
Noah supported numerous charitable organizations not only financially, but with his time, energy, and sage advice, including The Rape and Sexual Abuse Center, The Temple, Metro Arts Commission, Nashville Symphony, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, W.O. Smith School of Music, Easter Seals, Jewish Federation of Middle Tennessee, Anti-Defamation League, Legal Aid Society, The State of Tennessee Conservation Commission, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Gilda’s Club and numerous others, serving as board chairman for many of them. He provided the seed money for the first domestic violence shelter and for the first displaced homemakers programs, both through the YWCA.
As in many things, Noah was a man ahead of his time and as such, his core business was recycling. The motto of his companies, Steiner-Liff Iron and Metals, Steiner-Liff Textiles, and Steiner-Liff Wiping Cloths, was “Recycling for the Future.” From this vantage point he was able to develop affiliate companies which together would become the largest recycling conglomerate in the Southeast. On a personal level, he never ceased receiving pleasure from, and recognizing the importance of his companies’ roles in saving so many substances from landfills by converting them into valuable products that could be reused.
The Noah Liff Opera Center will help perpetuate the memory of a very special person who made a positive and lasting impact through his dedication to home, community, the arts and individuals in need.