ABMA Mourns the Passing of Fred Leventhal

Fri June 17, 2016

ABMA Mourns the Passing of Fred Leventhal

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Fred R. Leventhal passed away peacefully on Thursday June 16, 2016. Born in Cleveland, Ohio on June 22nd, 1921 to parents Fanny and Louis Leventhal the youngest of seven siblings. He died a week shy of his 95th birthday. Fred is survived by his wife and constant companion of 69 years, Maxine, their two children, Fern (husband, Augustine) and Todd (wife, Gabriele), five grandchildren, three step grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren. At the age of 18, Fred and his brother Harry arrived in Springfield, OH to purchase Vining Broom. After serving in the Pacific in World War II, he returned to Springfield and married Maxine Margolis from Dayton.  As a young Jewish man, Fred worked everyday to make Springfield a place where all people, regardless of faith, race or creed were welcomed and could prosper.  As his business grew to become one of Springfield’s largest employers (providing jobs for over 650 people in 4 states), Fred continued to work tirelessly, committing himself equally to the development of his business and to engendering social change.    In an interview, Fred shared, “When I came to Springfield, probably the greatest hurt I had was that I could not join the Junior Chamber of Commerce because I was Jewish.”  Today, however, Fred’s emphasis on inclusion has helped Springfield become a place where religious beliefs no longer exclude an individual from civic engagement.  Indeed, as stated by Fred, "My challenge was to make Springfield a good place for more people.  Rather than running away from the community, I stayed here and fought."  His devotion to his community is highlighted by years of service on local boards, such as City/Community Hospital, Clark State, Wittenberg University, Mental Health Levy, CHIEF, and Springfield Foundation.  Fred also received numerous awards for his efforts to build and strengthen the Springfield community from organizations including the Springfield Rotary, Kiwanis, Jaycee, Opportunities for Individual Change, Springfield Management Association, and Junior Achievement for which he was inducted into the Springfield Business Hall of Fame.  Wittenberg University was especially meaningful for Fred as he served on their Board of Directors and established the Fred R. Leventhal Family Lecture series—a free lecture series open to the public that for 34 years brought speakers such as Nobel Peace Prize recipient Eli Wiesel, entrepreneur and publisher of Forbes magazine Malcolm Forbes, and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin to Springfield.  Celebrating his significant contribution to humanity, his community, and the world, Fred received an honorary doctorate degree from Wittenberg in 2006.  A deeply religious man, Fred was also a lifetime member of Temple Sholom and served as its Board President.  Furthermore, Fred was known nationally, serving as a board member of the Hebrew Union College and President of the National Broom Association.  Yet, for Fred, it was always the relationships that mattered most. A champion of culture and service, Fred touched the lives of everyone whose path he crossed.  Working across political lines, Fred fought tirelessly to make jobs available to the working class communities of America. Whether it was in partnership with the National Council of Christians and Jews or with his dear friend Richard Kuss, Fred pushed for political, social, cultural and economic change.  Through these efforts, Fred has been an inspiration to us all; he was and will always be a profound reminder that finding common ground and building bridges is not only the true path to progress, but also, in these times of pressing cultural divisions, exactly what Springfield and America needs. 

Services for Fred R. Leventhal will be at Temple Sholom on Monday, June 20th at at 11:00 am.  In lieu of flowers, please carry on the wishes of Fred by supporting the dreams and aspirations of local residents and donating to Temple Sholom, the Fred R. Leventhal Family Lecture Series at Wittenburg University, or the Fred R. Leventhal Scholarship fund that will be established through the Springfield Foundation.