Sunday, May 29, 2022
1:00 PM to 4:00 PM EDT
American Legion Post #47
3811 W. River Drive
Comstock Park, MI 49321
Open house from 1-4 PM with military honors under the auspices of the Kent County Veterans Honor Guard at 2:00 PM.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
1806 Bridge Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Life Story / Obituary
Fiercely loyal, ever loving and caring, honest to the core, and a faithful friend to all he encountered, Mort Hoffman gave from the heart and then some. Foremost in his life was the family he loved and adored, and his servant’s heart knew no bounds when offering a helping hand to those he called friend. Mort never knew a stranger and could easily strike up a welcomed conversation with anyone. His dedication to his community, Veterans, faith and the numerous organizations he was involved with was a testament to his keen sense of honor, loyalty and generosity. Although deeply missed, the legacy Mort leaves behind will forever be remembered by those he touched with ways all his own.
Mort’s story began at a time when prohibition was law of the land and gangland gangsters continued to fill big city streets. Infamously known as the Roaring Twenties, changes within society were rapidly shifting just as Henry Ford announced the creation of the 40-hour work week which significantly beefed-up auto production. It was during these changing times when Benjamin Hoffman and Anna Resnick met one another in New York after each immigrated from Eastern Europe, venturing to the U.S. for better tomorrows. After getting married and beginning their lives anew, the young couple paved the way in their newfound home of Rochester, New York. On May 14, 1926, they welcomed the birth of their first child whom they lovingly named, Morton. Mort’s father worked at a local A&P and was later a salesman. He spoke five languages which he used to help others, and helping others was a learned and heartfelt trait young Mort picked-up early in life. His mother worked in a clothing factory as a talented seamstress and later became a caterer all while raising their family.
Mort was later joined by his two siblings, Sandford and Marsha and his parents worked hard to provide a good life for their young family. From his earliest years, Mort was close to his siblings, even though there were 12 years between he and his sister. The family home on Weaver Street in Rochester made for memorable times as his mother loved getting out the good china and cooking for large, family gatherings. Family outings like going to the beach in the Finger Lakes area of New York held fond memories for Mort in addition to fishing excursions with his Uncle Harry as often as possible. During his youth, Mort also enjoyed skiing in the winter.
No stranger to hard work, as a young kid Mort had his own paper route and never stopped working since. He thoroughly enjoyed baseball, so he got a job selling popcorn during the baseball games where he had the opportunity to be around some of the more famous players and longtime announcers. His arduous work paid off and in time he acquired a beautiful Chevy Bel-Aire. Having attended the local schools, Mort went on to graduate from Franklin High School in 1944 at the height of World War II.
Although he had been in the Junior National Guard, it was shortly thereafter when Mort felt the call to join the U.S. Navy where he served as a Seabee. He completed bootcamp in California and when he was about to ship-out, he became quite sick. His unit went ahead of him and by the time he recovered, he was assigned to a new unit and didn’t know a soul! Upon his honorable discharge from the service, Mort furthered his education on the GI Bill by attending Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa where he attained his bachelor’s degree. Working during the day and attending night classes when necessary, Mort was determined. Although he was close to receiving his Masters, he never quite finished.
Mort met the love of his life, Geraldine “Gerry” Bleich while attending Drake University. At the time, Gerry was working at the Des Moines Register, a local newspaper and at an area health food store. She happened to be friends with Mort’s two roommates, Jerry and Ralph who introduced the two. With much in common, they became fast friends and soon fell deeply in love. They dated for seven years and on June 1, 1958, they shared vows of marriage in Des Moines at Beth El Jacob Synagogue. The newlyweds set-off for a honeymoon in the northern city of Bemidji, Minnesota, known as the first city on the Mississippi River. They made a memorable jump over the river at just one-foot wide and enjoyed their time there fishing.
A rented apartment in Florissant, Missouri became their first home together before purchasing a house in Creve Coeur where they welcomed their daughter, Michele in 1962. Wonderful parents, Mort and Gerry provided their daughter with much love and guidance. Mort was protective of both Gerry and Michele, and as a father he was always concerned about Michele’s well-being and instructed her wisely.
While in Missouri, Mort worked in St. Louis in the corporate sector for Midland Shoe Company before moving on to Wohl Shoe Company. He then landed a job working for Hush Puppies. In October of 1976, Mort took a position with Wolverine Worldwide in Rockford, Michigan in the Hush Puppies Division. It was then when he moved his family to Michigan, making their home in the southeast side of Grand Rapids. Most importantly to Mort and Gerry was a good school district where their daughter could attend, and they chose Forest Hills Northern when Michele was a freshman in high school.
Mort traveled extensively for work which offered him the opportunity to see the entire U.S. Quite often, when Michele was young, she and Gerry accompanied Mort on his business travels. They enjoyed Yellowstone National Park and Redwood National Park in addition to trips to Disneyland and Disney World, MGM Studios and Epcot Center, the year they each opened and many more destinations too numerous to name. As a family they traveled to New York to visit Mort’s parents at every opportunity, and especially since Gerry’s mother lived with them, they visited Iowa whenever they could to see extended family there.
After their daughter was grown and on her own, Mort and Gerry continued their love of travel, most often with Mort’s sister, Marsha and her husband, Arnie. They boated on Lake Erie and traveled to Canada often. They visited Maine together with their good friends, Abbey and Saul, and went fishing in Alaska. Trips out west and to California exploring the San Francisco Bay area and Napa was a great time shared by all. Mort and Gerry didn’t confine themselves to travel within the U.S. They toured Italy, Sicily and by far some of their favorite places included Ireland and Spain. European countries were on their radar too, such as trips to Russia, Germany, Lithuania, Holland, Morocco, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, France, and the Vatican City. Japan, Israel and New Zeeland were also places they loved visiting. Later they became snowbirds for about ten years, and from January through March they spent their time in Florida where they made lasting friendships. They drove each year which enabled them to see the sights and visit family and friends along the way.
Mort eventually set out on his own as an entrepreneur where he used his passion for people and business skills abundantly. He never officially retired and continued working in many capacities through the end of his days. Being involved in their community was important to Mort and Gerry. Mort was a 50-year member of the Shriner’s Scottish Rite of Free Masons of the 32nd Degree. With integrity and his ever-present giving nature, he volunteered selflessly for the Kid’s Food Basket, God’s Kitchen, Family Promise, and Operation Isaiah organizations, just to name a few. Mort truly possessed a heart for those less fortunate. He was also incredibly involved with Veteran’s organizations. With extreme honor, he was a member of the Jewish Burial Society known as Chevra Kadisha, helping to prepare men within his Jewish community for burial. Even though he was quietly proud of his own military service, it was not until later years when Mort received much recognition for it. He and his daughter went on an Honor Flight with “Talons Out Honor Flights of Michigan” to Washington, D.C. for the day and Mort kept this day close to his heart, recalling it as the third best day of his life.
When it came to music, Mort preferred the sounds of Lawrence Welk yet when rock and roll came on the scene, he liked it, as well. Quite the dancers, Mort and Gerry danced a lot together, especially in the 1940s and 1950s to the tunes of the times, particularly to their favorite, Alley Cat. Mort liked singing in the car and later in life he even liked a little country music, but Lawrence Welk remained special. Mort had an amazing mind and could calculate anything in his head in addition to having the capacity to remember anything and everything about people, dates, places, events, and the like! In his free time, he enjoyed reading a good murder mystery and books on war. Mort appreciated a delicious steak, especially right off the grill. He also liked salmon, swordfish and lamb chops. Gerry also found her way into Mort’s heart with her baking, too as he absolutely loved her delicious Knishes and Rugelach.
Mort had a passion for many things throughout his life. He continued his love for travel and considered himself fortunate to have seen and visited so many remarkable places. Fishing was always a welcome pastime, especially with his beloved Gerry by his side on sun filled days spent together on their boat and seeing what the days catch would bring in. Hunting, mostly for pheasant was something he liked doing, although he rarely found time to do so. Mort was a golfer and as far as other sports were concerned . . . he was partial to the St. Louis Cardinals BUT, he made it very clear that he was an avid Michigan State University fan – Go GREEN and WHITE!!
With integrity and honor, Mort Hoffman lived his life in service to others. Whether family, friend or complete stranger, Mort served with a grateful and selfless heart. A devoted friend, one could often find him on the telephone each weekend for the last sixty plus years calling family and old friends just to say hello and check-in with them. His concern for others was unending, and his genuine nature shone bright. A determined man, his loving, caring and loyal spirit was a legacy always to be remembered. For these things and so much more, Mort will be deeply missed and fondly remembered by all who came to know and love him.