Sam Frankel: Passing Of A Pioneer
1913 - 2008
The Frankels cut the ribbon
to the Jean and Samuel
Frankel Traditional School
in Jerusalem, 1962
Photos courtesy Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
The Man Who Made
Detroit Jewry loses a leader and visionary.
Special to the Jewish News
amuel L. Frankel, who parlayed a career in wholesale
groceries and retail supermarkets into a real estate and
philanthropic empire, died April 7 at his Bloomfield
Hills home. He was 94 years old
Along with his wife, Jean, Mr. Frankel championed boundless
educational, charitable and religious organizations through-
out southeast Michigan. The beneficiaries of his charitable
efforts include the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Jean and
Samuel Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit in West
Bloomfield, the University of Michigan, Adat Shalom Synagogue
in Farmington Hills, Congregation Shir Tikvah in Troy, the
Detroit-based Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute and many
His interests extended to the State of Israel, where he was
instrumental in establishing the TALI school concept, a series of
secular schools that also include religious training.
Despite his countless contributions, Mr. Frankel did not seek
"In everything he and his wife did, it was not about ego.
Instead, it was for the right causes, for the good of the commu-
nity;" said Joyce Keller, executive director of JARC, the Farmington
Hills-based nonprofit, nonsectarian agency for persons with dis-
abilities and their families.
It was Mr. Frankel's contribution and fundraising expertise that
allowed JARC to buy land and build its first home for disabled
individuals. "He believed in JARC's mission, even before others
realized there was a need!' Keller said. "He was a very unpreten-
tious person, a tremendous role model!'
Robert Aronson, chief executive officer of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan Detroit, said Mr. Frankel not only
responded to the needs of the community, "but envisioned those
needs before anybody else?'
"For example, his contributions to the Jewish Academy were
absolutely crucial to the growth of the school," Aronson said. "At
first, he didn't want any recognition. Thank God, we were finally
able to name the school after him!'
Many of the philanthropist's contributions remain anonymous,
said Larry Jackier, one of the many who count Mr. Frankel as a
friend and mentor.
"To this day, no one knows all the good he did;' Jackier said.
"That's the epitome of how to give Jewishly."
"Sam Frankel, whom I knew from the
day I got here about 20 years ago,
was certainly one of the toughest
businessmen in the community, but
also the most generous. He was a
visionary. I don't overuse that word in
my speaking; but in his case, there is
no other way to express it.
"When he saw something he
thought the community needed,
he would contribute unstintingly.
Absolutely nothing would stop him
from going all the way.
"He was a man who not only
responded to the needs of the com-
munity, but envisioned those needs
before anyone else in a way that was
historic and irreplaceable. He saw
the big picture when it came to the
Jewish community and to Detroit. He
leaves behind a family who are them-
selves committed to the community.
"Sam Frankel was an irreplaceable
treasure to the Jewish community of
"He knew how to rake me over the
coals when he had a question, but
it was to point us in the right direc-
tion, not to be difficult for the sake of
being difficult. His legacy will last for-
ever in our community. He was a dear
friend, a dear mentor and a treasure
to the entire community."
Robert Aronson, chief executive officer
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit
Passing Of A Pioneer on page A16