Nathan Kornmehl (1916 – 2013)

Nathan Kornmehl (1916 – 2013)

I was saddened by the recent news that Nathan Kornmehl had died, initially in the way you are saddened by the passing of a historical figure —  almost a fictional one. As Linda Chalmers Zemel, who interviewed him for the Buffalo Jewish Review in 2004 — see Nathan Kornmehl’s Story — said of Nathan, who died last week at the age of 97:

His life is the stuff authors draw upon for a book and screenwriters for a script. His story tracks events that resonate with that familiar sound of the pain and tragedy of the Jewish experience in the 20th century. But it is also the story of happiness and fulfillment realized by the relatively few Holocaust survivors who were fortunate enough to reach America and make a new life.

Nathan and Frances Kornmehl ca. 1947

Nathan and Frances Kornmehl ca. 1947

Nathan Kornmehl was a major presence on this blog, although I am only distantly related to him and never met him. That’s thanks to his daughter-in-law, Jill Leibman Kornmehl, a key source of genealogical information about my mother’s family, the Kornmehls. She had been very  fond of his late wife, Frances, and she was very fond of Nathan.

Nathan Kornmehl with Tyler, Adam, Jason and David Kornmehl, 4 of the 5 grandsons tasked with carrying on the Kornmehl name. No pressure, guys...

Nathan Kornmehl with Tyler, Adam, Jason and David Kornmehl, sons of Jill and Bernie Kornmehl and 4 of the 5 grandsons tasked with carrying on the Kornmehl name

Nathan’s presence here is also thanks to his profession. He was very likely — because you never know, at the rate new family members keep emerging — The Last of the Kornmehl Butchers (Maybe).

Nathan and Frances Kornmehl in front of their Buffalo, New York, kosher butcher shop

Nathan and Frances Kornmehl in front of their Buffalo, New York, kosher butcher shop

This is the bare bones of who he left behind, from the obituary in The Buffalo News:

KORNMEHL – Nathan August 22, 2013. Beloved husband of the late Frances Kornmehl; devoted father of Edie (Gus) Friedman, Bernard (Dr. Jill), Sharona Fae, Dr. Marvin (Dr. Carol), Dr. Ernest (Dr. Ellen) Kornmehl; loving grandfather of Brett Warren Friedman, Jason, Adam, David, Heather, Tyler, Chelsea, Lia and Jake Kornmehl; pre-deceased by four sisters; dear companion of Annette Levenson.

I was intrigued by this last reference. The name Annette Levenson was unfamiliar to me. And then I heard from Seth Levenson, Annette’s grandson, who explained:

A few years after his wife Frances died, Nate began spending a lot of time with my paternal grandmother, Annette Levenson — my Bubbe. They never got married; just visited and vacationed a lot together, so we referred to him as Bubbe’s boyfriend.

I considered him my grandfather since I never knew my actual paternal grandfather. (He died when I was about two years old.) Nate always treated me like family and helped me whenever I needed it. He made a huge impact in my life.

I’ve been really sad ever since he died. Thank you for posting photos and sharing information about his life and family history. It’s nice to find pieces of him still around. I didn’t even get to say goodbye, you know?

Seth didn’t think I would be interested in his thoughts, because he isn’t part of Nathan’s “real” family, but he couldn’t have been more wrong. I have been discovering how many lives he touched, not only his blood relatives, but also members of the Buffalo Jewish community, where his butcher shop was a hub, as well as many who just met him briefly. I’m sorry I wasn’t among them.

Annette Levensen, aka "Bubbe"

Annette Levenson, aka “Bubbe”

Nathan Kornmehl

Nathan Kornmehl


I welcome memories and pictures of Nathan here. I’m sure there are others who didn’t get a chance to say good-bye, or who would like to have their words about him known to the public. Please post in the comments section and let me know, too, if you have pictures. I’ll contact you and let you know the best way to send them. I’ll post them as they come in.


“From reading about your father in your family history postings we see that the saga of his life reflects the 20th century history of the Jewish people. His strength of character despite hardship have made him an outstanding role model for the family and the entire community. He will truly be missed.”
— Pinchas Cohen, a friend of Bernie Kornmehl’s.

“We are very sorry to learn that  Nathan  passed away. We met him several times and we were very impressed of his connection  to the Kornmehl generation from Tarnow and his positive attitude to meet another branches of the Kornmehl family. The first time we met, already he gave us the feeling , that we knew him as a close relative very long already. We pray, that his memory will be a blessing to all his children and grandchildren and he will stay in our minds forever.”

— Rob and Marion Kornmehl /Amsterdam

My Uncle Nate was a real mensch, and he held a special place in our hearts. I, my wife, and my children always enjoyed being with him. He was interested in us, curious, always looking to see what wisdom he could dispense. He loved to laugh, and had a zest for life that was infectious. His eyes reflected kindness and caring. He was a veritable fount of knowledge. His sharp mind could recall dates and events of the past with clarity. He was the last of his generation, and we cherished the ties to the past that he represented. In his words and his actions, we could recall with great pleasure memories of his sister, my mother. They spoke with a singular voice, and being with him left us feeling happy for the experience.

Uncle Nate was one of the pillars of our lives growing up in Buffalo. He was your go-to guy, the voice of reason in the face of petty squabbles, the peace-maker who knew the value of humour and calmness in dealing with life’s challenges. When I think of him, I think of his butcher shop— he seemed to be always there, always with a smile and a kind word. And always, with a slice or two of rolled beef to brighten up a kid’s day. I fondly recall the times when he asked me to join his family at Glen Park to go on the rides, or for day of fun at Crystal Beach.

Uncle Nate had a reverence for G-d and for all religions, but it was so obvious that he cherished his Judaism. He reveled in it, lived it every day. He oft quoted from the bible in ways that were relevant and meaningful to the conversation. When my father, Leo, died, Uncle Nate was at the shiva house each day, usually leading the davening. A few times, with the prayers concluded, he would dispense a dracha, a little sermon which provided some piece of wisdom or comfort or insight into our sad circumstances. His words in one particular dracha have stayed with me to this day. He said that we must accept that death, for all the pain and suffering it causes, is part of life. You cannot have one without the other. A simple truth, but powerful nonetheless.

We are sorry to see such a gutte neshuma, a good soul, leave us. We will all miss him.

— David, Bonnie, Amy and Tamara Lilien, Toronto, Canada

If you knew our Great Uncle Nate, you know that he was caring, kind, sweet, generous and much more. I’m so happy that I had the chance to see him at our nieces Ilana Shapiro and Renee Shapiro’s Bat Mitzvah in November of last year. I always made sure that when I was in Buffalo, I would go see him. Gary, my husband, saw him in August when he was visiting. Nathan is going to be missed by so many people. So many of my friends knew him and my Aunt Frances. When I was younger,my friends and I use to ride our bikes over to their house. They lived so close to us. I’m so proud to say he was our Great Uncle!!!!

— Wendy Redlich Potter, great niece of Nathan Kornmehl

24 Responses to Nathan Kornmehl (1916 – 2013)

  1. Michael Kushner says:

    What a long and adventurous life he lived. I remember Nathan as an example of a warm-hearted, but tough and resilient person we do not often see today. I am sorry for your loss.

  2. Jill Kornmehl says:

    Thank you Edie for your kind tribute to my father-in-law, Nathan.

    He left a huge legacy behind and 9 wonderful grandchildren. His kindness, patience, generosity, love of family and devotion to Judaism made him loved and beloved by all in Buffalo. So many of Bernie’s childhood friends have wonderful stories to share and recalled that he faced great adversity in order to survive. Everyone remembers how hard he worked in the Kornmehl butcher shop.

    It is also because of Nathan that I embarked on this wonderful journey of Kornmehl genealogy research. His stories about the ancestral hometown of Tarnov and his remembrances of Kornmehl relatives stimulated me to find out more about the Kornmehl family. It turned out to be a wonderful gift, connecting me to others in the family. I will be forever grateful to him for sharing his life story with me.

    Nathan touched the lives of so many people who will miss him dearly. His attributes will live on through his children and grandchildren as a tribute to his life.

    • Rev. Dr. Phylicia Harding-Smith says:

      ‘Poppa’ (as I called him) has progressed and has left a trail of worthy gems that would be wise for all who knew him to emulate.

      Although I had only known him for two to three months, ‘poppa’ exemplified the virtues of a G-d fearing man. He possessed a heart that glowed from a mile off, one that was full of love for his Creator, his family and his community. I was particularly drawn to his second-to-none quality to hear what others were saying to him…by way of the ears of his heart. His responses were to be heard by the enlightened for they were “apples of gold in settings of silver.”

      Now,’Poppa’ would often remark about his reaction to reaching the ripe age of 97; “…I’ve never been 97 before…” and we would laugh heartily. His humor was broad and his good health and emotion reflected the fact that he was able to draw from his often tragic riddled life, disappointments and grief and turn adversity into powerful pearls of wisdom. His deep love and admiration for his wife was embedded in almost every other word that he spoke. I gleaned so much from this man who passed on lessons for life.

      My memories of his short stature and colossal virtues prompt me to praise him for a longevity of worth…some live long but their character is short-lived. Not true for a man who could be continuously viewed lifting his “eyes to the hills,” and who shared as a neon sign, “.from whence” came his “help.” “Poppa” had that precept hidden deep within, thus he was able to be lifted above whatever this life may have dealt. (Also, we knew when ‘poppa’ raised his hand, that was the end of a matter.)

      Yes, he has transitioned but his many paths intersected with peoples that I am sure, if gathered from over the world, would find standing room only. I am one of those, who by simply providing a favor to his family, was able to walk for a few days with ‘poppa’ through the twilight of his life – to archive within my heart precious wisdom.

      Finally, ‘Poppa’ transitioned and left me transformed…but for him it was a life-long legacy – his contribution to humanity.

      Comfort and Blessings,


  3. Lydia Davis says:

    I, too, am saddened to learn of the death of Nathan Kornmehl. His is such an interesting story, beginning in Tarnow at a very different time and in a very different culture, and ending in Buffalo, with a great deal to be proud of, along the way. And he was of that very precious older generation of eye-witnesses to the major event of the 20th century, a generation that is passing little by little. He lived to a very old age–how strong he must have been, and what a vigorous and accomplished family he leaves behind.

  4. Elaine Schmerling says:

    So sorry for his loss! May his memory be for a blessing. Nice tribute Edie and Jill. Jill, I also wanted to tell you how touched I was by your tribute to his wife, your mother-in-law. How lucky they both were to have such a loving daughter-in-law!

  5. Abraham Hirsch says:

    It was because of Nathan’s sister, Ida, that my parents wound up in Buffalo, too. My father was a cousin to Ida and Nathan. Nathan was the family butcher. I can still remember the wonderful aroma of the butcher shop. My favorite was the rolled beef. Kornmehl’s Butcher shop along with the Mastman’s Deli were the center of Buffalo Jewish food.

    I can remember large gatherings of the extended clan of cousins from my father’s side that settled in Buffalo in the 1950’s coming from Europe and Israel. Nathan and Francis were always among the most caring and friendly. The community was truly blessed with their contributions and legacy. Their inspirational story is a wonderful example of what Holocaust survivors accomplished just by living meaningful lives. May their memory be a blessing.

  6. Ellen Kornmehl says:

    Nate’s life was guided by principles of benevolence, leadership, hard work, family and his love for Judaism. My most vivid memories of him are of a spry, giving gentleman who lit up around his wife, Frances, the two of them twirling around the dance floor at my wedding or hand-in-hand walking the neighborhood. The two worked long days and nurtured and mentored five children who all remained committed to Nate and Frances’ values. Nate had just retired a year before Frances’ death and it never seemed fair that the two didn’t get to all their plans when life was not so demanding. They had a true bond. Nate would dance with Frances in their apartment to Nat King Cole even as the news dimmed

    “Remember anyone can dream
    And nothing’s bad as it may seem
    The little things you haven’t got
    Could be alot if you pretend

    You’ll find a love you can share
    One you can call all your own
    Just close your eyes, she’ll be there
    You’ll never be alone”

    After Frances’ loss, Nate carried on the couples’ dreams doing good in the community, guiding straight five children and nine grandchildren, cooking up their favorite family recipes- trays of brisket and roast chicken and homemade soup on holidays to be sure all were well fed, helping to care for grandchildren and giving sage advice- filling the family soul fully up. Thankfully, he found companionship when he met Annette and they enjoyed many new friendships together.

    His life was very much about strength and, I think, an enduring character that allowed him to remain a man of faith and generosity of self who embraced all that life handed him.

  7. My father-in-law of blessed memory was an amazingly resilient man. His physical and emotional resources enabled him to overcome adversity. To quote Nathan, “I overlived [outlived] Hitler, Stalin, and Saddam Hussein”.

    Despite his incredible strength, Nathan was a very sentimental, tender, loving man who was never afraid to show his emotions, both at joyous and sad occasions. For example, Nathan was a profusion of tears at my wedding ceremony, during Frances’ illness and passing, at Tyler’s Bar Mitzvah (the only one of his grandchildren whose birth he was privileged to attend), and when he visited my fantastic brother of blessed memory when he was hospitalized for a terminal illness.

    Although Nathan’s English was not perfect, his communication skills were; in fact, his ability to connect to people from every walk of life was enviable.

    Moreover, Nathan was brilliant; academically, if he had the opportunity, he would have been an overachiever. Nathan was indeed street smart and people always turned to him for his advice.

    Undoubtedly, Nathan’s integrity was second to none. His honesty, both in his business dealings and in his private life, was an example we all benefit from.

    I believe it is correct to say that Nathan influenced several generations, more happily, than any other leader. The outpouring of love for him from innumerable people, of all ages and from diverse backgrounds, is testimony to this observation. If ever there was a mensch, it was he. May his memory be for a blessing and may we perpetuate his values.

  8. edie friedman says:

    nathan kornmehl was a loving father who got to help others live a better life after they listened to his words of wisdom and his general outlook on life.

    lovinly, edie

  9. Judy Friedler says:

    As someone that grew up around the Kornmehl family, same North Buffalo neighborhood, I can only reiterate what everyone else has said. Nathan was one of the most generoud and kind men I have every had the pleasure of knowing.

    He always thought of others, and was so generous to my sister and I, offering to say Kaddish for my father, and then my mother, when they died. The gesture was so genuine and encapsulated everything that Nathan was about – piety, benevolence and pure kindness.

    My deepest heartfelt thoughts go out to the entire Kornmehl family, Edie, Bernie, Sharona, Marvin and Ernie.

    I hope you find comfort in the outpouring of love for your father.


  10. Helene Redlich says:

    Uncle Nate. Such a warm and gentle soul. He was a man who showed so much love and so much caring. He was always concerned about us and how our family were doing, and genuinely interested and proud to hear all about everyone. I knew Uncle Nate much before I married into the family. I always enjoyed going into his butcher shop with my parents and seeing his smiling face and eating his rolled beef. About a month before he passed away, we were talking about his rolled beef and I asked him for the recipe. He told me that first I needed a barrel. I told him I already had a “Beryl”. We laughed a lot that day, and I told him I was going to make rolled beef. He said, “I should live so long.” Well, Hashem took him from us, he will not taste my rolled beef, but I will make it. I’m sure it will not be as good as his.

    How lucky I was to marry into the family, and not only gain a wonderful husband, but I gained Uncle Nate. We became closer these past fifteen years, spending a lot of time with him and Annette in Florida for many winters. We went out together, they came to our home for many dinners and he imparted much wisdom to us. He appreciated my cooking, and I appreciated his joy at being with us. Everyone who joined us for meals and who came into contact with him fell in love with him.

    Uncle Nate never complained. He believed in G-d, and he accepted everything that came his way. When he no longer had the strength to talk, he was able to convey with his eyes or a small motion what he wanted to say. He lived a long life, and he was content. He accepted that it was his time, and he was ready. Our dear Uncle, may you rest in peace. We loved and will continue to love you. Cookie and Bernie

  11. David Kornmehl says:

    My grandfather lived a long, wonderful, fulfilling life. He started life as a young adult faced with adversity, but was always optimistic that the future would hold better times for him. It was this optimism that helped him make it safely through the war and survive those tumultuous times. This is one of many traits he passed along to his grandchildren. Optimism is a key component for success in this world.

    Granddad treated people with respect and dignity. He had a kind, gentle and caring soul that permeated and spread to everyone he came in contact with. Granddad taught me how to be a true mensch by setting an example in all of his words, works and deeds.

    My grandfather was the patriarch and rock of the Kornmehl family. He left behind a wonderful strong cohesive family. We loved him dearly. He will forever be missed and never be forgotten.

  12. Myrna Sunshine says:

    My uncle Nate was the only boy and youngest of five children. He endured many hardships during the Nazi takeover in Germany but despite his numerous struggles, he was a wise, kind and compassionate man. He never said a bad word about anyone and his positive attitude was truly contagious. As a young girl, I would go to his Hertel Avenue butcher shop where I knew a slice of the best rolled beef awaited me! I have yet to find another establishment that can provide me with such a delicious treat!
    My uncle has left a legacy that is to be admired….five incredible children, nine unbelievable grandchildren, and a life that was truly lived to its fullest. He touched so many lives and we were all so blessed to have known and loved him.


    Nate and my Bubbe, Annette Levenson were together since I was 2 years old. He was basically a Zayde to me growing up, as mine passed away when I was a baby. He was a great man. I remember driving with my Bubbe and him to Tim Horton’s to eat muffins and drink hot chocolate and when he used to sing “oh my dahling clementine”. Every time I’d come in the house, whether his or my Bubbe’s he’d say “Hi doll!” with a big smile and we’d hug. Also, I remember when he’d ask “you vant something mameleh?” in reference to food and I’d say no but he’d ask 2 more times and then i would finally give in. He was very sweet and for the past few years I would spend part of Passover with him and his children and grandchildren in New Jersey and I really felt part of the family. I’m going to miss Nate greatly.

  14. Mimi Shapiro says:

    Uncle Nate’s sister, Toni Lilien, was my grandmother. She, as well as my mother, Betty Redlich-Tombak adored Uncle Nate. He played a major role in both their lives, just as they did in his.

    My daughters, Ilana and Renee, absolutely loved visiting with Uncle Nate and will miss him terribly. That alone is a major testament to Uncle Nate. What teenage girls want to spend weekend afternoons with an elderly Uncle? He brought such joy to their lives, and I believe they also brought much joy to his later years. The last words that Uncle Nate whispered to me was that I should be very proud of my daughters and that he loved them. That is something I will always treasure.

    Paying tribute to Uncle Nate is a huge task. How do you capture almost a century of emotions and memories? How can you adequately portray the character of such a unique individual? Simply put, it can’t be done.

    Our family, as well as so many others, were so touched by this gracious and gentle man; and, it is truly an honor to help to preserve his rich history.

    We love you Uncle Nate and will miss that sweet face and smile—-Mimi, Drew, Ilana and Renee

  15. Deborah Alam says:

    I met Nate in June 1992. Nate was still grieving the death of Frances who was the love of his life till the day he died. I lived very close to Nate and attended the same shul. We very quickly became like family to each other. Very soon after this Nate became friends with Annette, whom he knew as a young girl who frequented his butcher shop. Nate, Annette, my mom and I frequently had shabbos dinners together at Nate’s and on other weeks Nate joined Mom and me at my apartment. It was rare for us not to share either shabbos dinner or lunch. Nate became a father figure to me.

    Though Nate was an excellent butcher, whose skills of the trade are very rare today, he didn’t enjoy the work. What he did enjoy was his relationships with people. People knew instantly this man was a friend for life, you could trust him and open up to him. Nate called himself a “maven” of people (expert). He was proud of having good relationships with people from all backgrounds and that many non-Jews were his customers too. He and Frances provided complimentary holiday meat platters to some of them.

    Nate recently won an award for the charitable services he provided all his life. Nate was always driving people to the doctor. He taught English to Russian immigrants. He was part of Jewish societies that provided interest free loans. He was always doing good for others. This was the joy of his retired life.

    Nate and Annette remained very close friends of mine even though I have lived in Israel for 12 years now. They were always best friends to each other. I last visited Nate on July 2nd and we knew it was our final goodbye. We cried. Nate still would have liked to see me get married. If it ever happens I know his spirit will be with me. I am glad he is with G-d now, he was suffering. Nate will live in my heart always.
    My sympathy to the whole Kornmehl family.

  16. Ken Friedman says:


    To my wife Dayle, our Granddaughter Brianna age 4, and myself, Nate Kornmehl was Family.

    When Nate entered Heaven on August 29, 2013, 3 Billion Souls lined up to wish Yishar Koah and shake hands with this MENSCH!

    Nate was part of our lives for the last ten years. We would visit him and Annette each year during the Memorial Day Weekend, and then again in February at the Homing Inn, when they were staying in Florida.

    During our Memorial Day visits, Nate would cook Shabbat Dinner for us. Here was this man, in his late 80’s and 90’s, lighting Shabbos candles, and cooking a full meal for us. The last two times we visited, he was visibly slowing down, he had fallen and hurt himself, and also his hands were becoming arthritic, and it was hard for him to cut his food.

    Despite his limitations, his devotion to HaShem and Judiasm was unquestionable and uncompromisable!

    Knowing Nate, only makes one proud to be a Jew!

    We can never know first hand the suffering he endured during the Holocaust, but we can try to appreciate his strong desire to survive.

    The Naziis arrived at his home in Cologne Germany on a Shabbos morning in 1938, and ordered Nate, his Mother, and sister, to vacate their home within a half hour and with only one suitcase and a small amount of money.

    They made their way to Poland, but Nate’s Mother didn’t have the strength to go further. His sister stayed with their Mother, and both eventually were brought to Aushwitz, where their lives were stolen from them in the most gruesome, brutal, and cruel ways, that even our imaginations can’t totally comprehend!

    Nate, on the other hand, arrived in Russia; where he was sent to Siberia as “Slave Labor”.

    He told us how even with boots up to his groin, ice would get in and the cold was sheer torture.

    However, he got a break, as he became a cook for his Russian, captors.

    He survived in Siberia for 7 years, until the War ended. He used psychology to convince the Russians to free him, promising to portray them in a kind way to the outside world.

    Nate returned to Germany, where the Mayor of Cologne urged him to move back to his home but Nate would have none of that.

    He met Francis, who was his first cousin; at a displaced persons camp, and they made their way to the United States and specifically Buffalo; where Nate set up a Kosher Butcher shop.

    Nate was kind and gentle, caring and concerned, honest and pious.

    It is said that when a person dies, the best thing that they can leave behind is a Shem Tov – a Good Name.

    Thanks to Nate, the Kornmehl name is highly regarded and distinguished, and Nate’s legacy continues through his children and grandchildren.

    A couple of years ago, there had been a terrible plane crash in Buffalo, and one of the victims, was a Cantor, a woman by the name of Susan Wehle.

    I had gone to junior and senior high school with Susan, and had mentioned her and the accident to Nate, when we were in Buffalo.

    It turns out that Nate and Susan were good friends, having met at a Memorial for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust.

    Nate also told us how beloved he was by the Chabad Shul that he attended. He prided himself in not driving on Shabbos. However, as he got older, the walk was too much for him. He informed the Rabbi that he had two choices either to stay home or to drive. He ended up driving.

    On the phone or in person, I would always greet Nate with “Shalom Aleichem” and he in turn would respond “Aleichem Shalom”!

    We are greatful and honored that we were able to visit with Nate twice in the months before he passed and to have him develop a relationship with Brianna. For us that was very special.

    We miss Nate very much, but he is always in our hearts, our prayers, our thoughts, and our memories.

  17. Deb Connolly says:

    I didn’t know Nathan but found your entry interesting because I did know Annette Levenson quite well as a child. The Levensons lived down the street from us on Henley Road in Buffalo…and the Levenson boys (Fred, Stuart and Jeffrey)were daily playmates. Our parents were good friends so we did a lot of things together. I was even invited to partake in lighting the Menorah at Hanukkah…something quite special for a Catholic child in those days. Annette and my mother hung out frequently and when our families both moved from Henley, we visited and had overnights. Since they had no daughters, Annette gave me lots of attention and I loved it. She was pretty, very funny, stylish and one of the nicest women I knew. Mr. Levenson (Lee) was also…and being a photographer (not sure if he was amateur or if it was his profession), he took numerous photos of me that I have to this day. I apologize for veering off the intent of this entry but saw comments from Seth and Marissa (Annette’s grandchildren) and just wanted to add to their history. I’m very sorry for Nathan’s passing last year. Sounds like he was an incredible man…

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Thank you very much for writing and sharing this part of your history. I will forward this to Seth, in case he is not keeping up on the comments; I’m sure he will be glad to know this memory of his “bubbe.” I too wish I had met Nathan. I agree, it sounds like he was an incredible man.

  18. Malcolm Wattman says:

    I just discovered this website and wanted to add a belated comment.

    I first met Nathan and Francis in 1959 when I was a freshman at the University of Buffalo on the Main Street campus. My mother had informed me that there were some distant cousins in Buffalo and gave me the names of Nathan and Francis as well as Ida (his sister) and Joe Wolf. They both lived on the same street a few houses from each other and after a month or so in Buffalo I found my way there. Apparently one or two of my mother’s siblings were instrumental in helping the family get to the US after the war for which they were eternally grateful. When I met them I was greeted warmly like a long lost relative and quickly became part of the family. Nathan’s kids (I still think of them that way) were all born by that time and were considerably younger than me. I found myself taken in by this family and spent much more time there than I ever anticipated. I would visit Nathan at his butcher shop on Hertel where he was always offering to help. Did I need some money, something to eat…? All through my college years I had Nathan and Ida to fall back on if I wanted information, company or was alone on any of the holidays.

    I was raised in New York City in a secular family and all this Jewishness was new to me. I celebrated several holidays and family dinners with Nathan, Francis and their five children. There was always this amazing warmth and calmness with Nathan, notwithstanding the chaos that always prevails in a household with five young children.

    Soon after graduation I was married to Donna Weber (whose father was also a butcher in Buffalo and who lived just a few blocks from the Kornmehls). Donna became part of the same family. We left Buffalo in 1963 and every time we returned for a few days Donna would ask to drop in and say hello to Nathan. We were invited to the Kornmehl’s family events, weddings and bar mitzvahs and attended whenever we could. It was our privilege to watch the five Kornmehl kids grow into adults and become professionals and then to attend their family events.

    After Francis passed away and Nathan began a relationship with Annette, we discovered that Annette was a good friend of Donn’s sister. The circle widened and continued. Nathan kept busy after the store was closed and I remember that he was using his car to take elderly people to medical appointments or deliver meals. It was always more important to him to be doing good than to be doing well. He was as proud to be an American as anyone born and raised here, and more so than most. He appreciated whatever he had and cared only for others with a sense of humility and warmth, but also with a sense of humor which he never lost.

    One of last times we saw Nathan was in Florida where he spent some of the winter a year or two before he passed away. Donna and I had purchased a home in Florida and were thrilled to find out that he was there. He was delighted to go to the Jewish delicatessen and we were delighted to take him there. He was well into his 90s but he was as high spirited, warm and giving as ever. He lived every day for his family, his children and his grandchildren and we were as happy to keep up on what was happening as he was to tell us.

    Nathan was one of a kind. A warm, caring and incredible human being. He will be remembered with fondness by everyone whose live he touched. He left this world a better place.

    • Edie Jarolim says:

      Malcolm, thank you so much for this story. I wish I had met Nathan. Everything that has been written about him makes me think he was a rare spirit, a gentle soul who did not judge anyone and reached out to all.

  19. Jeff Levenson says:

    I am annette’s son. I spent a lot of time with him, from Dr visits to the periodic invites for dinner. He was a very special man. There was more to nate than you know. We used to talk at his dinner table for a few hours on one or 2 days a week. Always had a story to tell and none different than the next. The stories always kept me intreaged. I took him to the bank to deposit his holocaust check. When we left he had all the girls smiling. Mate favorite place for dinner was the grapevine rest and he and my mother would enjoy a Tim horton’s coffee. I herd nothing but live he had for Francis and the respect he had for all his kids their wives and grandchildren and spike if them often. There is so much more I could add, but…..

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