First, please allow me to thank all of you for being here today with our family to honour the memory of Martin Mendelsohn. This is an enormously difficult day for my Mom Phyllis, my brother Paul, his wife Sarah and their kids and daughters-in-law and grand-kids Rafi, Adina, Ella, Eitan, Ori, Daniel, Dani, Tamar and Avi, and for my wife Susan and daughters Sophie and Jenna, and me. Thank you all.
Sometimes life is filled with contradiction and today just happens to be one of those days. We are here to grieve the loss of a mighty presence; a strong man, who was dedicated to his wife of fifty seven years and to his wider family, an intellectual force and a man of principle. My Dad, Martin, got it right; he lived the life he wanted, he devoted every fibre of his being to what was most important to him, and he managed to fill his life with the everyday things about which he was passionate.
He managed to do it all
I have infrequently encountered death in my life. Like almost all of us, I have lost grandparents. I also have suffered the loss of my mother-in-law and a dear friend. And as difficult as these past events were, this week has caused me to appreciate, with an almost laser-like focus, that our lives, while ephemeral, can have enormous impact. And if we live our lives the way my Dad lived his life, then we can leave lasting, fun memories and a legacy from which others can learn and be inspired.
My Dad loved and was loved. He loved my mother. He loved being married to and spending his life with her. He was an utterly devoted and loyal husband and that always was his priority in life. Curiously, he drove a car for so many years with a number plate, MM57. After fifty seven years of marriage, it is almost as if this was some part of a bigger plan, as if his guiding light in life and death was my Mom.
His devotion and commitment to family could never be questioned. Paul and I were supported, loved and always encouraged. His love of family grew to include his daughters-in-law, his grandkids and their wives and children. Nothing made him happier than being with family.
the most respected international franchise lawyer outside the United States
My Dad also enjoyed considerable professional success and it is no exaggeration when I say his professional accomplishments are far too great to recite today. Save to say, for more than four decades, he was the most respected international franchise lawyer outside the United States. And, as one franchise lawyer said to me this week, he will be remembered as a legend in this global industry. Among so many other achievements, he was a Visiting Professor in Franchising at the Middlesex University Business School, an Honorary Professor of the International Franchise Academy of the Beijing Normal University, Editor of the Journal of International Franchise Law, author of the definitive and seminal treatises on franchising law with his written works being adopted by franchise associations in Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and South Africa and translated into Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, Hungarian, Polish, Czech and Indonesian. Funnily enough, I think he tried to increase distribution numbers by giving each of his grand-kids autographed copies of each edition of each book! He was an adviser to governments, the EU and the OECD. And let’s not forget he was the Franchise Personality of South Africa too. And he never went to college, because his family could not afford to make that happen, so he clerked for five years to qualify as a solicitor, working in a law firm from eighteen until he retired at seventy five. Yes, fifty seven years once again.
But family and work were not the only facets of his life worth remembering. He was passionate about being active in his local synagogue, supporting the initiation society with pro bono legal support, traveling the world, playing cricket for the MCC, supporting and following the greatest football team in the world, and so much more. And all the while, he did this with a remarkable amount of arrogance and humility, seriousness and awful humour, hard work and a commitment to enjoy a family dinner every night and spend meaningful time with the people he loved the most. He was a rare breed. He managed to do it all.
Of course, he had his moments too. He will be remembered for imitating a whale in a swimming pool (his doctor encouraged him to keep moving lest he be harpooned), getting crushed in a game of shuffleboard in the Catskills by competitors who were in their mid-eighties, forever cracking jokes that were never as funny as he believed them to be, and always insisting (I believe without exception) that he was always right and others just happened to always be wrong. Of course, these are the things that made him one of us.
But he worked his way up from a place where he had nothing. He worked really hard. He formed rock-solid principles and never swayed from them. He gave his life to his family, friends and clients.
He was passionate about life and grateful. He shared his energy, his intelligence and his devotion to family with so many and we now embrace the memories and honour the legacy he has left behind. He will not be forgotten. He was too great a presence for that to ever happen and we have the rest of our lives to strive to be just a little bit like my Dad.