In the 1960s, Marcy Kronfeld was shopping at Dayton's with her two children and stopped at the Oak Grill for lunch.
The staff told her that women couldn't dine there unless they were accompanied by a male escort. "She said, 'I'm not moving, so you better serve me lunch,' " recalled husband Alan Kronfeld. "Marcy was a tough cookie, but she was also compassionate."
An accomplished St. Louis Park businesswoman who owned and operated Southside Care Center in Minneapolis, Marcy died at age 88 on May 31 at a hospice facility in Edina.
Born in 1929 in Houlton, Maine, the ambitious small-town girl went to New York to attend Barbizon Modeling School in Manhattan in the late 1940s. She worked an assortment of jobs, including one as an usherette at the Riverside movie theater. Alan, who grew up in New York, and a buddy had just gotten out of the Army and were being loud and boisterous during the movie.
"A lovely usherette came down the aisle and asked us to be quiet," he said. "I found out she lived right across the street from me." After dating and "having a ball," the couple got married at a Texas Army base in 1950 before Alan was shipped off to fight in the Korean War.
After Alan returned home, the Kronfelds lived in Colorado, then Maine before moving to Minnesota with their two children. Alan was an electrical engineer. Marcy started selling real estate in the 1960s. In 1974, she earned her Real Estate Broker license and open Marcy Kronfeld Realty.
"She had an entrepreneurial spirit and was ambitious," said son Richard Kronfeld, Minneapolis comedian, actor and screenwriter. "It rubbed off on me." Daughter Rosalind Kronfeld Wilbanks remembers going to open houses with her mother, who also sold vacant land to developers to establish new neighborhoods and earned Top Realtor of the Month honors. "She helped me buy my first condo in the 1980s in St. Louis Park," Wilbanks said.
Marcy often listed senior care facilities for sale, and in 1977 she bought the Southside Care Center, an 18-bed residential nursing facility without experience in the industry — and without telling her husband. "She would always say "If a man can do it, I can do it,' " Alan said.
Marcy hired contractor Mike Kelley to update and maintain the facility. Kelley became a friend. "She was an advocate for the mentally ill and forgotten people in our society," he said. Marcy mentored a young man from Ghana, a housekeeper at Southside, who got his degree and was hired at Southside as a staff nurse. She also "took many of the residents on shopping trips for clothes, and out to lunch," Wilbanks said.
But even with her busy career, her mom was always there when she needed her, she added. "Mom would dance with Rich and I to Devo," said Wilbanks. "She was fun, smart and beautiful."
Marcy also displayed a larger-than-life persona. "She drove around in this great big gold Cadillac, was a wheeler dealer and hung out at the Lincoln Del," Richard said. She was passionate about organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, he said.
Marcy, who retired from selling real estate in the early 2000s, was honored in 2010 by the National Association of Realtor as Realtor Emeritus. She continued operating the Southside Care Center until health issues held her back.
"She was a woman for all seasons," Alan said. "She could write, manage, supervise, sell, cook — and was a wonderful wife."
Besides her husband and three children, Marcy Kronfeld is survived by sisters Betty and Chavala. Services have been held.