Share this article

print logo

Leonard S. Kaminker, Jewish community leader; April 26, 1923 -- April 1, 2012

Leonard S. Kaminker who started working in the scrap iron business after school in the 1930s to support his family after the death of his father and went on to become a leader in the Western New York Jewish community -- died Sunday. He was 88.

Mr. Kaminker remained in the scrap business for almost 60 years. He worked at Buffalo Sashweight for many years, and in 1960 started Hendricks Sales Co. in his basement. He sold the firm in 1995 to Bermet Metals in Atlanta.

Born in Buffalo, he attended Lafayette High School and served in the Quartermaster Corps in Saipan during World War II. He completed his business degree at night from the University of Buffalo after his U.S. Army service.

He was active in the Institute of Scrap Iron and Steel, and served on the board of directors of its Western New York chapter. On the 25th anniversary of his firm, the testimonials from his clients and colleagues were not about his business acumen or expertise, but rather about his honesty and integrity, family members said.

Mr. Kaminker was a lifelong leader in the Jewish community and active in almost all of the major Jewish organizations in Buffalo. During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948, he sent scrap surplus tank turrets to Israel. In 1957, he organized the Herzl Zion Club, at a meeting at which he met his wife of 53 years, the former Hannah Adolf.

He was one of the founders of Kadimah Hebrew Day School in 1958 and later served as its president; was president of Temple Emanu-El during the merger with Temple Beth David; was active in the Jewish Federation, as well as the Foundation of Jewish Philanthropies; was one of the founders of the Buffalo Vaad HaKashrut, which provides Kosher food supervision; and was on the board of the Young Israel of Greater Buffalo, as well as the Young Israel of Pembroke Pines, where he spent the past few winters. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Amherst community eruv, which was just completed Saturday.

Aside from his grandchildren, his great love was helping and assisting others. Even in his last days, his focus was on helping others: providing business advice to the supplier of his oxygen and marital advice to one of his nurses.

Survivors include his wife; two sons, Jack and Ron; and two sisters, Sylvia Greenman and Thelma Greenspan.

Services will be at 3:30 p.m. today in Mesnekoff Funeral Home, 8630 Transit Road, East Amherst.