William Salcer, a Holocaust survivor who helped design tanks for Israel and became rich in the United States with a plastic tablecloth, has died at 82.

Salcer’s granddaughter, Donna Rubenstone, told The New York Times he died of leukemia Dec. 6.

“He was a thriver,” Rabbi Allan Schranz said at his funeral, saying that Salcer did far more than survive.

Born in Czechoslovakia, Salcer lived with an uncle in Budapest during the early years of World War II. He did his best to get the equivalent of a college degree in engineering in high school since Jews were barred from higher education.

He was later confined in a ghetto in Czechoslovakia and forced to march to the Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp.

After the war, Salcer made his way to Palestine where he worked with the underground army Haganah helping to manufacture armaments. He was later a designer for the Israeli Air Force and started the country’s first rubber factory.

Deciding after the Suez incident that Israel faced a future of war, Salcer emigrated to the United States. He held 12 patents, designing a stand for earring display and a rubber hockey puck.