Palm Beach Civic Association 81st season logo

Protecting the quality of life since 1944.

Morton Mandel with Olivia Debbs on the Oakley Debbs Field at the Rec Center

Palm Beach Salutes a Remarkable Man

Morton Mandel, the benefactor and namesake of the new Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center in Palm Beach, has passed away at the age of 98.

Born in 1921, Mandel, was the chairman and CEO of Parkwood Corporation, an investment firm in Cleveland. A generous philanthropist, he received 12 honorary degrees and the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy, among many other honors.


Praise for Mr. Mandel came in from all corners:

From Palm Beach Civic Association Director J. Ira Harris

“I was lucky enough to know him for over 35 years through business and charity and social occasions. Lunches with him were always fun and educational. He taught us a lot on how to live and be good members of our community. Mort, you will be missed by all.”


From Civic Association Executive Committee member Michael Pucillo

“A great man and a huge loss for Palm Beach. He has left a legacy of charitable work that will be long be remembered.”

From Civic Association Executive Committee member John Scarpa

“Sorry to lose such a leader who inspired many to follow in his footsteps with the many good things he brought us. Thieu names on the Rec Center will be a constant reminder of their generosity and the wonderful opportunities for all who attend the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center. Shalom Mort.”

From Civic Association President Mary Robosson

“Thank you, Mort. Your great gifts of life and love for our community will live on forever.”


From Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio

“Having known the Mandel family for over thirty-five years, I understand their deep roots in the community of Palm Beach and the length and breadth of their strong gifts to the community, both cultural and educational. We will soon celebrate the Mandel Recreation Center ribbon-cutting ceremony, while thinking of Mort’s kindness and generosity to the community. He was a true gentleman.”

This excerpt on Mr. Mandel is from the Cleveland Jewish News

When he graduated from Glenville High School in Cleveland in 1939, Mandel was awarded an academic scholarship to attend Case Western Reserve University, (then Adelbert College) which was interrupted when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. While in the Army, he continued his studies at Pomona College in 1943 and the University of California at Berkeley in 1944.

Mandel completed his bachelor’s degree at Case Western Reserve University in 2013.

“Education should be valued and treasured because it’s the path to the future for every living soul,” Mandel said at the time of his college graduation, according to the foundation’s website.


“I’m not a teacher,” Mandel was quoted as saying, “but I guess you could say that we’re all teachers.”

“I want you all to know how proud I feel with the response of this institution and of the Jewish community to this effort for the Mandel family and me to do something that will honor my brother Joe’s name and his wife, Florence,” Mandel said after the foundation gifted $17 million to Agnon School, which was renamed the Joseph and Florence Mandel Jewish Day School in Beachwood.

His philosophy of hiring

He divided people into A’s, B’s and C’s. Of them, he said, an “A will be spectacular, someone ‘B’ will be good, ‘C’ average. My conclusion is ‘A’s’ will build you and make a millionaire, and if you have enough ‘A’s,’ they’ll make you a billionaire.”

He said ‘A’s’ are worth hiring, even if the timing is not opportune.

“When we find an ‘A’ and don’t have a job for them, we hire them,” he said. “We call that ‘parking.’”

Return to Newsletter