Morton Reifer

Morton Reifer

REIFER: Morton Reifer passed over January 22, 2016. He was born August 31, 1919 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Being a creative and in-charge kind of man, he wrote these words himself.

Morty devoted many hours at the YMHA and the Pittsburgh Playhouse. His love of theater continued during his college career at the University of Illinois and later at the University of Pittsburgh where he was often one of the leads in the Pitt Cap and Gown Shows, traditional musical reviews by men only, playing male and female roles. He loved writing, production and performing and he seemed destined for show business.

With the war, Morty was stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he became an instructor in the Medical Corp X-Ray School. There he co-wrote, directed and produced musicals. When Gypsy Rose Lee came to perform for the troops, she asked him to come out, dressed in one of her costumes and ham it up so she could get off stage. After four years of service, he eventually left for the West Coast to fulfill his theatrical ambitions. He met and married Ruth Brown, who often danced in local charitable shows.
Together they moved to St. Louis where Mort began his career in the wine and spirit industry. He started working for Gilly Reifer Company and then in 1953 for Schieffelin & Co. as a state manager for Missouri. He was promoted to central division manager and moved with his wife and two daughters, Jackie and Teri, to Chicago. Next he became open states sales manager and the family came to Belle Harbor, New York. He progressed through the firm to senior vice president and was elected to the board of directors in 1970 and to the position of executive vice president in 1973.

Active in the industry, Mort found time to join various organizations. He was a member of the N.Y. Chapter of the Masonic Order and Mecca Temple Shriners, the chairman of the cognac committee of the National Association of Alcoholic Beverage Importers and served on the champagne committee. He was a member of the board of American Importers Association, an officer commandeur of Confrerie de la Chaines des Chevaliers Du Testevin De New York, Confrerie de la Chaine Des Rotisseurs, The Wine & Food Society and The Commanderie de Bordeaux. Mort was a board member of the Sales Executive Club of New York, which honored him in 1975 with the “Top Banana” Award.

Morty served on the board of trustees for Peninsula Hospital Center and West End Temple Sinai Congregation. He was a member of the Inwood Country Club and later Tamarisk Country Club when he and Ruth retired to Rancho Mirage.

Mort was predeceased by his mother and father, Rachel and Jacob Reifer and his beloved sisters, Anne Chernew (Hyman) and Clara Broner (Jonas), his brothers, Gilly (Becky), Lewis (Lillian) and Irwin Reifer (Eleanor). He is survived by his wife Ruth of 68 years, his daughters Jackie Reifer and husband John Saccone, and Teri Reifer and husband Jan Fillinger. He has three wonderful grandchildren: Kate Saccone, Micah Fillinger and Selina Fillinger. He leaves many beloved nieces and nephews and their families. His best friend, Herb Douglas, the oldest-living African American Olympic medalist, also survives him. They both feel they are part of what the other has achieved.

While Mort was comfortable in the boardroom and sales meeting, he was happiest when surrounded by his extended family and friends, on the golf course, traveling the world, and on the dance floor with Ruth.