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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

April 24, 2015  RSS feed
Federation

Text: T T T

Mark's Mensches

Murray Zolkower

Most Americans are familiar with what’s referred to as “The Greatest Generation.” The term was coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the generation that grew up in the United States during the Great Depression and then went on to fight in World War II or contributed to the effort on the war’s home front, also making a significant difference in the road to victory.

As a member of this prestigious group, Murray Zolkower continues to play an active role in supporting Jewish life and culture in our Jewish community. It’s my great pleasure to welcome Murray to the ranks of Mark’s Mensches.

One of the first things you notice when talking to Murray is that he is full of energy, good humor, and he has an innate sense of giving back to his community and those around him. His voice belies his age of 94 years, but the years he’s spent helping others shows a long life of dedicated service – with no signs of slowing down.

Murray and his late wife of 68 years, Lillian, moved to Florida from New York 45 years ago. They moved from Miami to Longwood and eventually settled in Clearwater when Murray got a job offer from a friend that he couldn’t refuse. Murray worked as a pharmacist and the job in Clearwater was to work for a new pharmacy that had recently opened.

Murray knew he wanted to be a pharmacist since he was a young boy. He would often visit a local drugstore and talk to the pharmacist, asking all about the job. That pharmacist told Murray he should look into pharmacy school when he was older, and that’s exactly what Murray did.

Working as a pharmacist was well suited for Murray’s giving nature. “I’ve always given back to the community. A pharmacist is a pillar of the community. People went to me first before they’d go to a doctor. People need help. I figured I could give them help.”

That desire to render assistance also served him well as a soldier during World War II. As a medic, Murray helped to liberate the Dachau concentration camp. His WWII experience began in 1943, landing in Scotland then going to England and finally to France a month or two after D-Day.

“We had 800 medics serving 12,000 soldiers. It wasn’t that easy.”

Today, Murray is the commander of the local Jewish War Veterans Post 409. For more than 30 years he has worked with the Clearwater-based group supporting local hospitals by doing things like subsidizing a monthly bingo game at Bay Pines VA Hospital and regularly distributing toiletries to patients. He actively recruits new members and attends monthly meetings the first Sunday of every month. He has belonged to Congregation Beth Shalom in Clearwater for 38 years, since he first moved to the area.

Murray is also the proud father to four children, six grandchildren and three great grandchildren. All of his grandchildren have graduated college, his children have successful careers – one even followed Murray’s career path as a pharmacist – and Murray has much to be thankful for. As does the community that he continues to serve and give back to every day.

One of Murray’s responsibilities as commander of the JWV Post is keeping the memorial plaque that hangs in the Federation’s board room updated as members of the local JWV post pass away. It’s clearly not a pleasant task, but serves the important purpose of taking one more step toward ensuring these heroes are not forgotten.

Murray comes to the Federation office to do this and it’s such a pleasure to have him come visit. If you saw him walking down the street, you’d never think he was 94 years old. He’s a great example of looking as young as you feel.

Murray has shared that it’s getting more and more difficult to recruit new members to the JWV and he informed me that the post would really like to see some younger veterans get involved. If you know of Jewish veterans that may have an interest, please contact the Federation office and we’ll help make the connection to Murray.

I hope you find Murray’s story as inspiring as I do. He’s truly a role model for the ages, consistently leading by example. Please let me know what you’re now inspired to do for our community.

Thank you, Murray, for all you’ve done and all you still have yet to do!

Know a mensch? Contact marksegel@jewishpinellas.org or call the Federation office, (727) 530-3223.


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