Respected businessman, devoted husband, father, brother. Born Sept. 17, 1917, in Russia. Died Oct. 14, 2011, in Montreal of natural causes, aged 94.
Though retired for well over 20 years, Morrie Krantzberg was instantly recognized by former customers all over Montreal, right up until the end, as the man who had owned the Kiddie Kobbler shoe store. Arguably his greatest accomplishment, the success of his more than 30-year business was by no means the only one in his 94 years.
Morrie immigrated to Canada from Russia with his parents and older siblings at the age of 4. He grew up in Ottawa the middle child of five. His father, a learned man, was the principal of Ottawa’s first Talmud Torah Jewish day school.
Morrie’s own hunger for education was sidetracked by his father’s early death from a heart attack, the Depression, the Second World War and the responsibilities of family and career. His lifelong dream of earning a university degree was only fulfilled seven decades later upon his graduation from Concordia University, at the age of 74, with a bachelor of arts degree. It was one of his proudest moments.
While stationed overseas during the war as a corporal in the Royal Canadian Air Force specializing in radar, Morrie made his first of many lifelong friends. After the war he ran a grocery store in Buckingham, Que., that afforded him the luxury of being the first to own a freezer in the small town.
His brother Jake, who ran several Kiddie Kobbler shoe stores in Ottawa at the time, urged Morrie to move to Montreal and open his own store, which Morrie did in 1954. Properly fitted oxfords and saddle shoes were the style of the times, and they offered a home-fitting service for children to cater to young stay-at-home mothers.
After being introduced by mutual acquaintances, Morrie married Gertrude Tannenbaum in 1957. They worked together as their business continued to grow over the next decades, as did their two children, Eli and Leon. A third, Mitchell, died in infancy from a rare neurological disease.
Respected as an honest and decent businessman, Morrie never judged others harshly. Upon catching one of his employees stealing, rather than fire the young man, Morrie recognized his potential and chose instead to give him another chance. The employee continued working for him until the business closed in 1987.
After earning his bachelor’s degree, Morrie continued to enjoy his retirement by staying active, playing tennis and making regular trips downtown for smoked meat at Reuben’s Deli.
He was probably the only person in history to get personal table service at Tim Hortons. Recognizing that he was getting less steady on his feet, the staff would prepare his usual order of a bagel when he came in and deliver it to him.
Morrie lived a long, happy life and leaves behind a loving and devoted family. He will be sadly missed by all.
By Eli Krantzberg, Morrie’s son.