On February 23, 2023, Albert Fraenkel II, age 94, passed away peacefully at his home in San Francisco, California, surrounded by his loving family. Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, on March 12,1928, he was the son of Felix Fraenkel and Natalie Levy Fraenkel. He sincerely believed he lived the “American Dream.” His life was a testament to the power of hard work, dedication, and selflessness, and his legacy will continue to inspire those who knew him for years to come. Educated in the New Orleans Public School System, he was honored as the outstanding graduate of Fortier High School and the Salutatorian of the Class of 1944. He received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Tulane University in 1947 at age 19. In 1949 he moved to Shreveport, Louisiana, where he began his career working for his uncle, Lester D. Scharff, in the furniture distributing business. Called to active duty in the Navy during the Korean War, he served in Bayonne, N.J. and Mechanicsburg, PA, as a Ships Parts Officer. He was discharged as a Lieutenant (JG). While in the Navy he married Eleanor Lesser of Charleston, S.C., his wife of 64 years who died in March 2018. They moved to Baton Rouge, LA in 1959 to establish Fraenkel Wholesale Furniture Company. Beginning with one employee, the company evolved into one of the major mattress and upholstery manufacturers in the southeast United States. Albert was a champion of free enterprise. After the company formed a Profit Sharing Plan in 1967, it was converted into an Employee Stock Ownership Plan in 1975, among the first in Louisiana. Over the years the Fraenkel Company became 100% employee owned with more than 1,100 stockholders. A community leader and philanthropist, he served as President of the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, the National Wholesale Furniture Association, Congregation B’nai Israel, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge. In addition, he served on many boards, among them the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Chamber of Commerce, United Way, Audubon Council Girl Scouts, Community Fund for the Arts, Junior Achievement, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry and as a Trustee of the Baton Rouge General Hospital and General Health System. He served as a Pioneer Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Freeman School of Business of Tulane University and as a Director of Union Planters Bank of Baton Rouge. He was a Founder of Hill Craft Furniture Company of New Albany, MS. Upon his retirement in 1998, he moved to San Francisco to be near his children and grandchildren where he served as Executive Vice-President of the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco and as a member of the Board of Fraenkel Gallery. Even though miles separated Albert from his beloved Baton Rouge and Louisiana, he continued to stay in touch via daily telephone calls to his friends, family and former colleagues asking probing questions and discussing all the sports he so passionately followed and loved. His many honors include Free Enterpriser of the Year for the 6th Congressional District Louisiana, Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Furniture Distributors Hall of Fame, Most Distinguished Entrepreneur of Tulane University, Baton Rouge Business Report’s Hall of Fame, and the Greater Baton Rouge Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Philanthropist. As a great friend, he had a special knack for making people feel valued and welcomed. He had an infectious smile, warm personality, and positive outlook on life. He was always there to lend a helping hand or a listening ear to anyone in need. His friends will remember him for his loyalty, sense of humor and ability to bring people together. He is survived by his son Jeffrey Fraenkel (Alan Mark), his daughter Marien Grace, grandson Noah Sablosky, granddaughter Linnea Sablosky, brother Francis “Shorty” Fraenkel (Frances), nieces Sallie Fraenkel Zuch and Julie Fraenkel Mamis, nephews Alan Toporek, Avron Lesser and Nowell Lesser, and devoted cousins, Maggie Pearson and her husband Ambassador Robert Pearson. Honorary Pallbearers are E. M. “Ned” Clark, Jimmy Field, Alan Mark, Ambassador Robert Pearson, David Rubin, Alan Toporek, and Felix Weill. A celebration of Albert’s life will be held on Monday, April 17, 2023, at the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, 2626 W. Dual St., Baton Rouge, LA 70815. Visiting will begin at 10 AM, and the program will begin promptly at 11 AM. If the heart dictates, memorial contributions might be considered to: Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank, Fraenkel Center, P.O. Box 45830, Baton Rouge, LA 70895-4830 (brfoodbank.org), or Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117-1080 (fromminstitute.org).
Published by The Times-Picayune on Apr. 9, 2023.