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Jack Mandel, philanthropist and major univ supporter, dies at 99

Published: May 16, 2011
Section: Summer News


Photo courtesy BrandeisNOW

Jack N. Mandel, a renowned businessman, philanthropist and supporter of Brandeis, died May 12 at his home in Cleveland, Ohio. He was 99.

Mandel, with his brothers, Joseph and Morton, founded the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis and donated $22.5 million for the new Mandel Center for the Humanities.

“Jack Mandel was a generous, selfless individual who has meant so much to Brandeis over the years,” university President Fred Lawrence said in a statement on BrandeisNOW. “He invested in people with the values, ability and passion to change the world.”

Born in Kolbusowa, Poland in 1911, Mandel moved to the United States in 1920, when he was nine years old. After graduating from Glenville High School in 1929, Mandel and his brothers bought their uncle’s automotive repair store in 1940 for $900 and launched Premier Automotive Supply Company. The industrial company became public in 1960 and the London company Farnell Electronics PLC bought it in 1996.

Since age 14, Mandel had worked selling newspapers, ushering at a local theater and spot-welding at a metal products store in Cleveland. In 1997, Forbes listed Mandel as one of the 400 wealthiest Americans, with an estimated fortune of $450 million.

In addition to the Center at Brandeis, the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations and the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University as well as the Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership and Management and the Mandel Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Community Centers of North America were either founded or supported by the Mandel family.

Former Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz currently serves as president of the Mandel Foundation.

“Jack Mandel was a wise, kind and Jewishly-learned individual,” Reinharz said in a statement on BrandeisNOW. “He treated everyone with respect and a wry sense of humor, and was beloved by everyone who came into contact with him. He will be sorely missed.”

Mandel served on the boards of Cleveland’s Montefiore care center, the Cleveland Sight Center and the Cleveland Play House. He also served as a trustee for the Temple-Tifereth Israel and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

Jack Mandel is survived by his brothers, Joseph and Morton, his sister-in-law and Brandeis trustee Barbara A. Mandel, the wife of Morton Mandel; his son, Sheldon Mandel and many nieces and nephews. He outlived his wife Lilyan, daughter Bonnie and sister, Meriam Cole.

Gifts can be made to the Jack and Lilyan Mandel Memorial Fund, the Temple-Tifereth Israel, 26000 Shaker Blvd., Beachwood, or to the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, 27501 Science Park Drive, Beachwood, Ohio 44122.