If you shop at Arden Fair or visit the Crocker Art Museum or go to public school in Sacramento, you have been touched by Mort Friedman.
Before he died Wednesday at age 80, Friedman's intellect, energy and heart had penetrated almost every corner of his adopted hometown.
A lawyer, businessman and philanthropist, Friedman first made his mark in the courtroom, litigating some of the most important personal injury cases in the nation, including the 1972 Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour plane crash that killed 22.
His spectacularly successful legal career would have been enough for most people, but Friedman turned to business. He purchased the flagging Arden Fair mall in 1975 and turned it into a regional retail powerhouse.
Marcy Friedman, his wife of 57 years, is credited with inspiring her husband's interest and contribution to the arts. Their $10 million donation helped elevate Crocker and make its recent expansion possible.
The Friedmans gave generously of their time and money to a long list of other civic and charitable causes, including the Sacramento Symphony, literacy and school programs, and the Capital Unity Center, which promotes racial and ethnic understanding.
Friedman was also devoted to his faith, serving as president of the Mosaic Law Congregation and raising money for Shalom School, the region's only Jewish day school.
His son, developer Mark Friedman, said Friedman "believed in simple virtues telling the truth, working hard and giving back."
When he and his brothers told a questionable story growing up, their father "made us swear, not on a stack of Bibles or Scout's honor," Mark Friedman remembered, but on "Friedman's honor."
Morton Friedman lived an honorable life and left his community a richer place.
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