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 Sam Frankel

Sam Frankel

Death 7 Apr 2008 (aged 94-95)
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 25852425 · View Source
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~Developer created Kmart, Somerset~

...Francis X. Donnelly and Santiago Esparza / The Detroit News...

If Sam Frankel of Bloomfield Hills had had his way, few people would have noticed his death Monday.

He never sought the limelight and would have been happy to toil in obscurity.

Given his 94-year life, however, that was never going to happen.

He was a visionary developer who built everything from discount stores to posh malls and a philanthropist who showered money on the University of Michigan and Detroit's cultural institutions.

"He certainly made his mark in the Detroit metropolitan area," said Deborah Dash Moore, director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at U-M.

In the 1960s, Frankel collaborated with Harry Cunningham to create the discount-store concept, building the first Kmart store. In 1969, he developed Somerset Mall. It later expanded to Somerset Collection.

Frankel helped build a plethora of other projects: the Sheffield Office Plaza, Opdyke Industrial Center, Morel East subdivision and Somerset Inn, Plaza, Park Apartments and North subdivision.

He then transformed from developer to philanthropist, donating money to the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute.

At U-M, he and other family contributed to the Ross School of Business, the Cardiology Department in the School of Medicine and the Drachler program in the School of Social Work. As recently as 2005, he and his wife, Jean, donated $20 million to set up an institute of advanced Judaic studies.

Moore said colleagues told her it was not unusual for Frankel to come to classes and absorb lessons. "The passion he had for learning wasn't just for others," she said. "It was for himself as well."

At the start of a 30-year career, Frankel headed development operations for Allied Supermarkets, where he helped develop Oakland Mall in Troy.

He won a Butzel Award for outstanding community service in 1984 and the Distinguished Citizen of the Year by the Troy Chamber of Commerce in 1991.

Besides his wife, Jean, he is survived by a daughter, Jo Elyn Nyman, and three sons, Stuart, Stanley and Bruce. The funeral will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at Adat Shalom Synagogue, 29901 Middle Belt, Farmington Hills.



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  • Created by: Kim Koper♥Davis♛
  • Added: 9 Apr 2008
  • Find A Grave Memorial 25852425
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Sam Frankel (1913–7 Apr 2008), Find A Grave Memorial no. 25852425, ; Maintained by Kim Koper♥Davis♛ (contributor 46811243) Unknown.