Morton Goldmeier: March 4, 1924–August 25, 2015

by | Sep 11, 2015 | Other News

Morty Goldmeier

Morty Goldmeier

A driving force behind much of Tidewater’s Jewish community, Morty Goldmeier passed away on Tuesday, August 25 at age 91.

In an interview with Karen Lombart for Jewish News in 2010, Goldmeier said, “The manner in which one chooses to live his life should be based on the lessons taught in synagogue. It is our responsibility to live with a moral Jewish compass and take Torah to heart.” And so, he spent decades as a volunteer in the Tidewater community on projects that benefited so many.

Goldmeier traced some of the reasons for his commitment to Jewish communal life to the memories of the late 1930’s, when he was in high school and was excluded from certain fraternities and country clubs. “Jews simply were not allowed to be members,” he said.

In 1943, an engineering student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, (Virginia Tech), Goldmeier heard stories of the plight of European Jewry and enlisted in the service. First stationed in California as an army aviation engineer, he was transferred to Oxford, England. Under the command of a Jewish captain and an Irish motor pool officer, the threesome jokingly called themselves “Steingold’s Flying Irish.” In January 1945, his company landed in France on D plus 20 and took its position 15 to 20 miles behind the frontlines. Each time the fighter landing fields were advanced, his outfit adjusted its position to continue to supply and repair the guns and other weapons needed by the aircraft.

After graduating in 1948 from the University of Virginia, Goldmeier worked for Nachman’s Department Store in the accounting department, while his father work for Nachman’s as a buyer. In 1952, he answered an ad for a position as a Certified Public Accountant for Goodman and Company, an accounting firm started in 1932. His career with Goodman and Company continued for 38 years. As a past chairman, Goldmeier was proud the company grew to be one of the largest certified public accounting firms in Virginia.

Also in 1952, he was a founding member of Temple Israel, rising through leadership—first as a treasurer and then later as vice president.

In 1973, Sonny Lefcoe, then president of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, asked him to serve on the UJFT board as chair of the Beth Sholom committee to study the feasibility of building a nursing home in Eastern Virginia. Beth Sholom of Central Virginia, located in Richmond, acted as Tidewater’s nursing facility. To attend the board meetings, Goldmeier traveled to and from Richmond, often with Hal Sacks. Ultimately, he proposed that a separate nursing home be established in Tidewater. Once approved by UJFT’s board, Goldmeier worked with the Richmond staff to provide seed money for the project. While he focused on the financial aspects of the endeavor, Robert C. Nusbaum donated his legal assistance. Together, they arranged for the facility’s partial funding to come from tax-free bonds.

On Sept. 14, 1980, The Beth Sholom Home of Eastern Virginia opened on Auburn Drive with Goldmeier as the founding president.

Hal Sacks recalls when Goldmeier chaired the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater’s Annual Campaign in 1985. “At that time, the Beth Sholom Home and the Federation was having one of their recurrent spats,” notes Sacks. “Buddy Strelitz, Sonny Lefcoe, Tavia Gordon, Leonard Strelitz, Mickey Kramer and I (as Campaign director), crowded into the living room of the Goldmeier’s summer cottage and promised him that we would put our efforts to secure at least a 10 percent increase in major gifts (for the success of the Campaign), if he would cross over as our chairman and heal some of the wounds.

“We had a great campaign, and in addition to a $180,00 second line for Israel Special Fund, returned our campaign to the levels it had not reached since the Yom Kippur War.”

Goldmeier received many awards, including the Brotherhood Citation from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Inc., the Thomas L. Hofheimer Humanitarian Award, an award from Israel Bonds and others. In 1978, the Virginia Society of Certified Public Accountants acknowledged his committee chairmanship of the Management of an Accounting Practice and in 1996, he was recognized for his outstanding support and leadership by the United Way of South Hampton Roads.

“In the time that I have known Morty in my 27 years in this Jewish community, first as executive director of Jewish Family Service, and now as UJFT executive vice president, I found him to be compassionate, intelligent and dedicated to the health and welfare of Jews, not only in Tidewater, but in Israel and around the globe,” says Harry Graber.

“I always knew that Morty would make time for any question I would have and provide guidance so that I could be successful in my role for the community.”

Still, with all the hours Goldmeier devoted to work and volunteering, “he found time to take off from work and race to the beach house on his children and grandchildren’s arrival days, take family trips, and most of all enjoy family gatherings on the Holidays,” says his son, Edward Goldmeier. “A glow would surround him and he basked in the joy of these visits. He would always make sure to toast to his pleasure at having his family together.”

Julie Pastor, granddaughter, notes, “My Papa focused on the good things in life. He worked hard. He was successful, but not boastful. He was active and generous in his community. He had dear friends. He was an exceptional dancer. He was kind. He loved his wife and his family and told us all as much as possible. He taught us so much and gave us so much to aspire to.”

Married to Bootsie for nearly 68 years, he was most proud of his three children, nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren. Goldmeier carried the pictures of his great grandchildren inside his wallet.

It was his nine grandchildren, however, who carried him on August 27, all of them serving as pallbearers.