Morton L. Mandel, renowned business leader, philanthropist and dedicated social entrepreneur, passed away on Oct.16, 2019 at his home in Palm Beach, Florida. Born in Cleveland, Ohio and a resident of Palm Beach, Florida, he was 98 years old.
The generosity of Morton, along with his brothers, Jack (1912-2011) and Joseph (1913-2016), has made a profound impact in Cleveland, Palm Beach, Israel and in other communities nationally. Through their foundation and individually, Mandel and his brothers have donated more than $900 million to Jewish, educational and cultural causes. (See below for detailed list of locations and beneficiaries.)
“Mort dedicated his life to serving communities around the world but he always held a special place for our beloved Cleveland. That’s one of the things you immediately recognized about Mort – his commitment to our city. There are plenty of successful business people who write checks to worthy causes, but lose touch with where they come from. Not Mort,” said U.S. Sena-tor Sherrod Brown.
In 1940, with his brothers, Jack and Joseph, Mandel co-founded Premier Industrial Corporation, when they pooled together $900 to purchase the “remnants” of an auto parts store from their un-cle. Premier went public in 1960 and was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1964; it later merged with Farnell Electronics, PLC, based in the United Kingdom, to form Premier Farnell, PLC, in 1996.
In 1998, Mandel and his two brothers founded Parkwood LLC, a Wilmington, Delaware-based private trust company. At the same time, Mandel remained heavily committed to civic and phil-anthropic activity in Cleveland, Palm Beach and Israel through the Mandel Foundation, which the brothers established in 1953.
At the time of his death, he served as Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of Parkwood LLC, a pri-vate trust company, and Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Man-del Foundation, both headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.
“The positive impact Mort made in this world is beyond measure. His values of generosity, re-spect for others and his integrity will be his everlasting legacy,” shared Jehuda Reinharz, Presi-dent of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, and former president of Brandeis Uni-versity.
Mandel was born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1921. After high school, he attended Adelbert College (now Case Western Reserve University) in Cleveland, on scholarship. After completing his freshman year at 19 years old, Mandel dropped out of college and co-founded Premier Automo-tive Supply Co. before enlisting in the Army. He later returned to the family business, and was asked by his brothers in 1957 to become CEO of what was to become Premier Industrial Corpo-ration. Over the years, he thought about the credit hours required to earn a bachelor degree but his focus on Premier Industrial Corporation took precedence. In 2013 – nearly 75 years after starting college – Mandel earned and received his Bachelor Degree with 2,000 other students in caps and gowns. “It’s important for me to take this last step. It’s like I stopped on third base and had a chance to score by going home,” said the then 91 year old. “It’s completing something that was slightly incomplete.”
Asked about his success, Mandel would say, “We were a company that believed in solving our customer’s problems and not just pushing product out. This was a key factor in the growth of our company.”
Along with his business success, Mandel became involved at an early age in civic and philan-thropic activities in his hometown of Cleveland and later, nationally and internationally, devoting about 25 percent of his time to civic and philanthropic efforts. Mandel served as chief volunteer officer for a large number of high-impact community organizations, and founded alone or in partnership with others, a dozen 501(c) (3) non-profit organizations aimed at improving the qual-ity of professional leadership in the social sector, rehabilitating inner cities, and revitalizing Jew-ish education around the world.
Today, the mission of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation is to contribute to the flourishing of the United States and Israel as just, inclusive, compassionate and democratic so-cieties and to improve the quality of life in both countries. The Foundation supports leadership and education programs in its own institutions and at selected universities and nonprofits.
“The greatest asset he brought to an organization was not his money, it was the insight and vision he shared with the leader of the organization. Mort rolled up his sleeves and applied every ounce of his ability to lead, manage and teach,” said Stephen H. Hoffman, Vice Chairman of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation and former President of the Jewish Federation of Cleve-land. “The work of the Mandel Foundation will go on, but Mort’s presence will be missed by the countless people he has touched over the course of his life.”
Mandel credited his parents for instilling his philanthropic values. He often said, “Even though our family had little money, my mother always gave a small something to others. Giving was a permanent fixture in our home. We were taught the obligation of helping others. We realized ear-ly in life that when true wealth became a by-product of success, we were its custodian, charged with using some of it to make our world a better place.”
Nationally, Mandel served as President of the national Council of Jewish Federations and was the Founding Chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council. In Israel, Mandel was a Founding Co-Chairman of Operation Independence, and Founding Chairman of the World Con-federation of Jewish Community Centers.
Through his passion for growing leaders, the Mandel School for Educational Leadership was de-veloped in 1992 with the mission of cultivating exceptional leaders in education who have the passion, commitment and practical wisdom to change Israeli society for the better. “The Mandel School for Educational Leadership helped to create a corps of more than 400 change agents who are transforming Israel through ideas and actions that improve lives,” said Danny Bar Giora, the school’s current director.
About his vision, Mandel said, “Every day, they pay tribute to what I believe: that a single indi-vidual can change the world. Powerful ideas, driven by outstanding people, represent a sure way to light more candles and help illuminate the world.”
In 2012, Mandel published a book on leadership titled It’s All About Who You Hire, How They Lead… and other Essential Advice from a Self-Made Leader a book of management and leader-ship advice culled from his experiences in business, philanthropy and life.
Throughout his career, Mandel was recognized for his business prowess and leadership abilities. He received a Presidential Award for Private Sector Initiatives presented to him personally by President Ronald Reagan in a Rose Garden ceremony, along with many honorary degrees from universities across the United States and in Israel. In 2011, Mandel was inducted into the prestig-ious American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the nation’s oldest and learned societies. Several years later, he received the 2016 Academy’s Scholar-Patriot Award in recognition of his remarkable commitment to advancing the ideals that inspired the Academy’s creation in 1780. In 2019, Mandel received the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy – honorees “personify the ideals of Carnegie’s vision, seeking through their giving to create a world of positive change.”
In addition to his wife, Barbara A. Mandel, Mr. Mandel is survived by his daughters, Amy Man-del and Stacy ( Keith) Palagye, and his son Thomas (Lisa) Mandel; his grandchildren, Alicia Mandel, Daniela Mandel, Wilson Petricig, Jack Petricig, Daniel Mandel, Lilian Rose Palagye, Olivia Lyn Palagye; and his great-granddaughter, Amora Mandel Carson.
The memorial service is Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 1 pm at the Maltz Performing Arts Center at The Temple Tifereth Israel, 1855 Ansel Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44106. Visitation immediately following services until 5:00 p.m. at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied So-cial Sciences, 11235 Bellflower Road., Cleveland, Ohio 44106. Valet parking availa-ble.Additional visitation will continue on Monday, Oct. 21 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the home of Thom and Lisa Mandel, 1655 North Medina Line Road, Akron, Ohio. Private graveside ser-vices.