Eulogy for Sol Dorf - by Michael Dorf
Sol Dorf: A Gentleman
At the gym on Friday I pondered, very emotionally, what I might say about Grampa. I considered the many themes which we all have been thinking about since his passing. His incredible wit and humor, his sense of style, sense of family, honesty in all his dealings. As I lifted some weights on a machine, I thought about him taking all of his grandchildren to Vic Tanny Health Club, getting us all lifetime memberships, barbells for home, and boxing gloves. I ended up doing extra reps and saying "theeese" are for Gramps. I did extra sit-ups, in an odd sort of homage. But as we all celebrate how blessed we are to have had 94 years of his influence, he could not have outlived all his peers if it were not for his commitment to being fit, strong, and healthy. (among other things including his love for our Gramma.)
But it was not about purely about the physical body, but rather the disciplined regularity that gave strength to his ability to lead a business to great prosperity, lead a family of great diversity, and lead an example of personal character of tremendous humility.
It was this regularity and discipline that made him a lifelong saver, someone willing to save pennies, when he was both young growing up in the depression and until the end. My Dad is convinced he is one of the few people to actually save from his social security checks. He saved and kept such good care of his shoes, that over the years, this old collection today rivals those of Leona Hemsley and Marcos of the Philippines. But the hard working characteristic that made him a self-made entrepreneur is the foundation which allowed him to live life the way he wanted for all of us. Starting his own business and success of Milwaukee Biscuit took creativity, long-hours, and dedication. But the most inspiring aspect was not just the manifestation of the work, but the reason! The work seemed not for himself, but for others around him, his employees, collogues, and-especially the family. He wanted his children and future generations to have more than he had, to live life to the fullest. It is why he and Gramma had such joy to see us all golf so much in Florida, how proud he was to golf with four generations of Dorfs' or attend baseball games with his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. These were the fruits of his labor!
A sense of regularity and tradition started early. Since the days of prohibition and his gangs in Chicago, he started a tradition of Happy Hour. For as long as any of us grandchildren can remember, we had kiddy cocktails. The grown-ups got the harder stuff. Sol and Eva sipped scotch (of course, non single-malt) almost every evening at sunset, the symbolic ritual to put the day's worries aways for a moment. Clearly, the happiness lasted more than an hour.
He constantly reminded us, in a loving way, we were so spoiled and needed to appreciate what we had in America. The farm he grew up on outside of Chicago, the milk cow, all the early stories and toasts. The very humble roots were constantly a reminder of how fortunate we were.
And we are lucky, not just to have learned from his glorious life, but to have witnessed dignity encapsulated in a life. I know we all want to try and pass this down to our children, as my parents have to me, the way I hope to for my children, the quality of life that Sol Dorf demonstrated. L'Chaim Gramps……your life will always be alive within us.
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