Northbrook volunteer Mort Wax dies at 85: 'He was always there to help'

Wednesday, 27 September 2017, 05:51:37 AM. Dedicated Northbrook volunteer Mort Wax has died.

Morton "Mort" Wax, for decades one of Northbrook's most active volunteers, died Sept. 21. He was 85.

Wax was a behind-the-scenes leader often considered indispensable by his associates, but he maintained a humble approach.

"I have this personal principle, which is you should never serve on a volunteer board for more than two terms," he said in 2004. "After that, instead of working on new things, you begin to defend the things you have done."

Wax was speaking in explanation of his resignation from the Northbrook Community Relations Commission shortly after he had worked with others to set up a Sept. 9, 2001 Interfaith Walk, in which residents visited a variety of the village's religious institutions, including the Islamic Cultural Center of Greater Chicago.

The walk was credited with enhancing understanding between Muslims and others, when, two days later, the attacks on New York and Washington occurred.

"He really epitomized service above self, for all these years," said Northbrook Historical Society President Judy Hughes, quoting the slogan of Rotary International.

Wax, an accountant, had a 40-year executive career with and followed it up with years of work for United retirees, culminating in the presidency of the Retired United Airlines Employees Association in 2006.

He was a Korean War veteran and long-time Army reservist, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in the late 1970s, according to his family.

"Mort was a very quiet guy with a very soft voice … and he did good things," said his friend of decades, former Northbrook trustee Barry . "He was what we say, a mensch."

Wax's financial acumen was applied year after year to support the Civic Foundation's Northbrook Days and scholarship programs, and Rotary's fundraisers, too, friends said.

He was credited with putting in 1,400 volunteer hours to help bring the 1996 Democratic Convention to Chicago. He also worked on the host committee for the 1995 World Cup that was held in Chicago.

Wax and his wife Lorraine were something of a Northbrook power couple, with Lorraine serving six years as president of the Northbrook Park District Board. She received the Northbrook Civic Foundation's top volunteer award in 1987, and her husband won his own Civic award in 2004.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who was elected in 2001 as representative in the General Assembly's 57th District, said both Waxes were instrumental in her eventual success.

For Mort Wax, "it's not about 'me,' it's the organization, and the work," Elaine Nekritz said.

"He was a warm and genuine person, but also – I'm searching for the right word — he didn't suffer fools lightly," she said.

Most recently, Wax served two terms on the Northbrook Senior Services Commission from 2009 to 2015, the last five years as chairman. He was credited with pushing through a long-awaited capital maintenance plan for the village's Crestwood Place senior housing building.

"Mort was a very special person," said Northbrook Village president Sandy Frum, who nominated him for the commission. "There wasn't anything that I couldn't ask of him for the betterment of the community, for Civic, for Rotary. He was always there to help."

Surviors include his wife, his daughter Roslyn (Jim) Mooney, son Craig (Julie) Wax, and four grandchildren.

Services have been held.

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Article Northbrook volunteer Mort Wax dies at 85: 'He was always there to help' compiled by www.chicagotribune.com