Marvin Borman

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Obituary: Marvin Borman spent decades helping community

  • Article by: JAMES WALSH
  • Star Tribune
  • September 19, 2012 - 8:59 PM

A community-centered and civic-minded organization seeking a spirted, committed, roll-up-your sleeves guy could not have chosen a better volunteer and advocate than Marvin Borman, friends and family say.

So, many of them did just that.

The result was that many organizations, including the Greater Twin Cities United Way, Mount Sinai Hospital, the University of Minnesota Foundation, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Jeremiah Program, were enriched by Borman's sweat-equity over several decades.

Borman, 89, of Minneapolis, died Sept. 15. His wife of 66 years, Elizabeth (Betty), was at his side.

"He was just one of those people that believes your role in life is more than your business. It is your community," said James Colville, former United Way CEO. "He was a member of the United Way board for 34 years. That is unheard of, to stay that engaged for that long."

A founding partner of the local law firm Maslon, Edelman, Borman and Brand, Borman had an inexhaustible work ethic, Colville said. Folks at the United Way even set up an office for him in the building. "He was there every day, like it was his job," he said.

Even after Borman left his volunteer position, Colville said, "you could feel his guiding spirit. On any project, people would say, 'What do you think Marvin would say about this?' "

Colville said Borman was "not a letterhead volunteer. He lent his heart and his soul to everything he did."

Borman, who was born in Indianapolis on July 14, 1923, came by his sense of community service early, said his son, Thomas. He was an Eagle Scout at 13, graduated from high school at 15 and gave the valedictorian speech, won accolades at the University of Michigan and joined the U.S. Marine Corps just after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

A call to service was expected in Borman's family and he eagerly answered, Thomas Borman said.

"There has always been in Jewish tradition an emphasis on giving back and community service," his son said. "I am sure that this whole generation that came back from World War II that gave so much, and gave it unselfishly -- they came home and built communities."

He was far from one-dimensional, his son said. He loved his family and fishing and spending time on Lake Minnetonka. He enjoyed tennis and, later in life, spending time in Florida with Betty. And he loved his work at the firm that he built, Thomas Borman said.

But there was something deeply satisfying about giving back to the community.

"Dad loved understanding and running organizations, charitable organizations. He really was fascinated by the people, the missions and really thrived on investing a tremendous amount of time in these organizations," Thomas Borman said. "I think that is why he became president of so many organizations. People knew when he got involved, they were getting a full-time commitment."

Borman is survived by his wife, three children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A memorial service was held Wednesday at Temple Israel in Minneapolis.

James Walsh • 612-673-7428

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