Mordecai Joseph Kolko, who was born in Rochester New York on March 14, 1933, passed away peacefully in his sleep on February 7, 2021. He is survived by his loving wife of 61 years, Bradleigh Ann Kolko (Fine), by his daughter Ada Amy Chartock and her husband Michael Chartock, and by his son Hanan Kolko and his wife Martha Hines Kolko, his three grandsons, Benjamin (“Ben) Chartock and his wife Adina Goldstein, Joshua Chartock, and Abush (“Abe”) Kolko, his brother-in-law Neal Fine and wife Sharon, and his sister-in-law Devorah Kolko. He is predeceased by his father and mother, Hyman and Ada Kolko, his father-in-law and mother-in-law, Sidney Fine and Bess Fine, and his brothers Samuel and Myron, his sister Ruth, and their spouses Beverly, and Myron. He leaves behind numerous nephews and cousins. He also leaves behind numerous friends. He cared about their lives and graced them with his kindness, wisdom, counsel, and enthusiasm. And, he leaves behind his beloved City of Rochester.
Mort was a child of Rochester who grew to be a leader and faithful servant of the community. He loved the Rochester Jewish community, going to Hebrew School and having his bar-mitzvah at Temple Beth Joseph, and marrying his loving wife and having his children’s bar and bat mitzvahs at Temple Beth El. He served Temple Beth El for many years as a member of, among other things, the membership committee, the ritual committee, and later as treasurer. He was a regular and enthusiastic presence at Sabbath and holiday services at Beth El.
Mort was educated at Rochester School Number 8 and at Benjamin Franklin High School. He graduated from the Cornell University New York State School of Industrial Labor Relations. At Cornell, he was an active and enthusiastic member of the Beta Sigma Rho fraternity. He was proud to have been a graduate of both Franklin and Cornell. After graduating from college, Mort served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, primarily at the U.S. Army Aerial Support Center in St. Andre Eure, France. Mort’s service in the U.S. Army shaped his disciplined approach to life, and he was grateful for the opportunity to serve. While serving in France, Mort was an informal chaplain to the Jewish service members in Normandy and the Paris areas.
Mort left the Army in 1957 and began his career at Kolko Paper Company, the company his father founded in 1913. With his brothers Sam and Mike, he worked at Kolko paper for decades, and he retired in 1999. As a businessman, Mort was honest, hard-working, fair, and honorable. For many years Kolko Paper Company had season tickets to the Rochester Red Wings, and Mort was the keeper of those tickets.
Mort was devoted to institutions in Rochester that made people’s lives better. He volunteered his time and wisdom, working with, among others, Temple Beth El, the Finger Lakes Health Systems Agency, the Genesee Regional Home Care and Hospice, Lifetime Home Care and Hospice, the Montgomery Neighborhood Center, and the Foodlink Foundation. His goal was always the same – to help build and strengthen institutions that would, for years in the future, help people live better lives.
Mort was a peacemaker. He was able to listen to people and to genuinely hear them. He never spoke ill of anyone. While he was a tough negotiator, he was always fair.
Mort loved his grandsons and they loved him. He served as a model for them, and he was happy to share stories of his life with them and to learn about their lives. He saw the three of them grow from little boys who played at the beach and shared ice cream cones at Big Olaf’s, to young men in graduate school. Though the past several years were harder for him physically, Mort proudly attended Ben, Josh, and Abe’s college graduations in person. He had the honor of being able to see his grandson, Benjamin, marry Adina Goldstein, and as he came to know Adina, he took great pride in her work as a middle school teacher in Philadelphia. Papa, as he was known to them, wore the various college hats and sweatshirts with tremendous pride in his grandchildren.
Mort loved the Rochester Red Wings and Jeremiah’s Wings. He loved to travel, particularly to France, Israel, and Morocco, but he was equally happy driving on Route 64. He loved fishing in Canandaigua Lake and in Lake Ontario, and spent countless days seeking out fishing hot spots, and not so hot spots, throughout Upstate New York. He was equally comfortable at the Rochester Philharmonic and at Earl’s Bar and Grille, whose demise saddened him. And, finally, he loved his family with great joy, setting an example by being kind, wise, giving, humble, and earthy. His wife, children, grandchildren, in-laws, and his entire extended family gave him immeasurable joy and satisfaction.
Mort asked that those who wish to make contributions in his honor contribute to Foodlink. And, if you want to honor him and follow in his footsteps, he’d urge you to love your family, be a good friend, be generous with your time, give back to your community, be devout, and have an ice-cold beer while fishing in Lake Ontario, near Cape Vincent, or while watching a Rochester Red Wings game, preferably from a seat on the third baseline.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, funeral services and interment will be held privately. To live stream Mordecai’s funeral service please visit www.tberochester.org – TUESDAY at 9 AM. The family sits Shiva via Zoom on TUESDAY from 6:30-8 PM.
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