on May 28, 2013 - 7:41 PM
May 7, 1927 – May 26, 2013
Just about everyone who knew Morton H. Abramowitz knew this much about him – he absolutely loved his hometown of Niagara Falls.
“He grew up in the Falls, went to schools in the Falls and loved the city,” recalled his daughter, Deborah Carey of North Tonawanda. “He always called it ‘my city.’ He loved Niagara Falls and was convinced that someday it was going to come back, better than ever.”
Mr. Abramowitz, a popular and highly respected lawyer who worked for city and county government and spent countless hours doing volunteer work in the city, died unexpectedly Sunday in his Niagara Falls home. He was 86 and still running a busy legal practice at the time of his death. He attended a Memorial Day parade in Niagara Falls with friends Saturday.
An Army veteran from World War II, he was a Niagara Falls attorney for more than six decades. He was one of Niagara County’s leading experts on municipal law.
He was also active in Democratic Party politics for many years and was extremely proud of the friendships he struck up with nationally known government officials, including former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and two late vice presidents, Hubert H. Humphrey and Nelson Rockefeller.
Born in Niagara Falls, Mr. Abramowitz graduated from Niagara Falls High School before enlisting in the Army at age 17 to join the war effort. He became a noncommissioned officer and, near the war’s end, ran a supply depot for the Army in Berlin.
After the war, he continued his education, earning a degree in business from the University of Michigan, and then his law degree from the University at Buffalo Law School. He began working as a lawyer in the early 1950s, and soon after that, he became a law partner with Aldo L. DiFlorio and Anthony Rotella.
Eventually, Mr. Abramowitz and his two partners became three of the city’s most widely known attorneys, but in the early days, they started small. “They had one desk in their little office, and whenever a client would come in, the attorney who served them would pretend it was his desk,” Carey said.
In the 1960s, Mr. Abramowitz served as city manager for more than five years in the administration of Mayor E. Dent Lackey. He later became an assistant Niagara County attorney and then county attorney for two years, beginning in 2002. In recent years, he served as legal adviser to the Niagara Falls City Council and the Niagara Falls Library Board.
Over the years, Mr. Abramowitz was recruited several times to leave Western New York and work on government jobs in other cities, his daughter said.
“He always turned down job offers in other parts of the country. He said he could never leave Niagara Falls because it was his city,” Carey said. “My father always felt Niagara Falls had the potential to become so much more than it was. He always tried to be a peacemaker between different political camps. He always wished that people would put aside their differences and work for the best interests of the city.”
Mr. Abramowitz was long active in volunteer activities for the Niagara Falls Rotary Club, the Red Cross, the Jewish Federation and the Salvation Army, for which he often served as a Christmas bell-ringer. He was a recipient of the Jacqueline Koshian Award for public service in Niagara County.
He enjoyed golf, spending time with his family, and rooting for his favorite sports teams – the Buffalo Bills and the Niagara University basketball team.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday in the chapel at Otto Redanz Funeral Home, 2215 Military Road, Niagara Falls.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Abramowitz is survived by a sister, Edith Shapiro. His wife of 47 years, the former Esther Pasternak, died in 1998. He is also survived by special friends Michael and Mary Maloney and Cathy Colquitt.
– Dan Herbeck