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Longtime Cleveland businessman, philanthropist Morton Mandel dies at 98

Mandel's career spanned nearly eight decades, and his impact in Cleveland and around the world will be felt for generations.

CLEVELAND — Morton Mandel, whose entrepreneurship and philanthropy impacted Cleveland and the world for generations, has died at the age of 98.

The Cleveland Jewish News confirms Mandel died Wednesday morning at his home in Florida. His career spanned nearly eight decades and was most notable for its roots and activities in his home region of Northeast Ohio.

Born in 1920 to Polish immigrants, Mandel was raised on Cleveland's east side and worked as a vendor at old Municipal Stadium before graduating from Glenville High School. In 1940, he dropped out of Adelbert College (now known as Case Western Reserve University) after he and his brothers purchased their uncle's auto repair shop.

Under the brothers' guidance, the shop would evolve into Premier Industrial Corp., which sold car parts before becoming a leader in distributing electronics. The corporation merged with Parnell Electronics in 1996, and Premier Farnell LLC is now one of the largest industrial and electronic suppliers in the world.

Additionally, Mandel was the Chairman and CEO of the Cleveland-based Parkwood Corporation, a private investment company that even expanded its operations to Israel (as subsidiary Israel Equity Limited) in 2003. 50 years prior, Mandel and his brothers also established the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Foundation, which works in the areas of leadership development, management of nonprofits, humanities, Jewish life, and urban engagement.

Throughout his life, Mandel was known for his charitable efforts, and either served on the board of or helped co-found multiple non-profits such as United Way and MidTown Cleveland. His foundation also helped establish the Mandel Jewish Community Centers in Beachwood and later Palm Beach Gardens, and his family name is adorned on multiple buildings across Northeast Ohio and Israel.

Mandel served as a student for the Army during World War II and later received his bachelor's degree from Case in 2013. In 1988, he and Premier received the Presidential Award for social initiatives in the private sector from then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

Cleveland U.S. Rep. Marcia L. Fudge released the following statement on Mandel's passing:

"I am saddened to learn of the passing of Cleveland philanthropist and entrepreneur Morton Mandel. Through his foundation, Morton shared a passion for developing the next generation of leaders to improve society and transforming countless lives in the Jewish community, Greater Cleveland area and around the world.  

"Morton’s varying philanthropic activities demonstrated his devotion to positively impacting everyone he touched. His benevolent spirit coupled with his business acumen inspired excellence in young and seasoned professionals alike for more than half a century. Morton was a pillar of our community. His investment in our local economy opened doors that would have otherwise remained closed.  

"His legacy will live on through the Foundation and the global leaders benefitting from his visionary programs and lifetime of giving.  He leaves an indelible mark on all our lives. He will be greatly missed."

Mandel is survived by his wife Barbara, three grown children, and seven grandchildren.

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