MURRAY LENDER

Obituary
  • "I worked for the Lender brothers back in the early 80's. ..."
    - Carol Mastersanti
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    - M Milord
  • "Murray Lender bought great joy to me and my family. I was..."
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    - Michaela
  • "Rest in peace. I thank you for the bagels I just enjoyed,..."
    - Glendon Kushner

LENDER, MURRAY, a bagel baker, food executive and philanthropist, who helped bring the Bagel to kitchens across the nation, died yesterday at the age of 81. Along with his two brothers, Marvin and Sam, Murray turned the dream of bagelizing America into a reality through the process of freezing the bagel, which the family pioneered in the early sixties. He was born into the family business, which his father started in 1927 upon his arrival from Poland. Murray began counting bagels in their backyard bakery before he was eleven. By the time he finished high school he had learned all about bakery production and delivery. Upon graduating from the Junior College of Commerce, with a degree in business (now Quinnipiac University, in Hamden, Connecticut), he spent two years in the U.S. Army Military Police Corp, and entered the family business, which was still in their backyard garage, on a full time basis in 1955. Being specifically responsible for marketing and sales for Lender's, Murray had to make the most of a non-existent budget. He was a food marketing innovator and he took what was formerly only an ethnic product and made it a national staple, available to all. In 1963, Lender's introduced a branded retail pack of frozen bagels and the bagel boom was on. Murray saw frozen foods, which was a new category of products, as an opportunity for greater distribution and expanding the market to new users. He popularized "cross promotions" as he partnered with many of the day's popular breakfast staples. In exchange for advertising on their bags, Lender's could be seen on a range of products from Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Parkay, Welches, Smucker's, and Minute Maid. Free publicity was also a key to their success. Murray could be seen presenting a life- sized bagel on the Tonight Show to Johnny Carson, or on Capitol Hill presenting Tip O'Neill with a giant green bagel on St. Patrick's Day. As the company grew, so did their advertising budget, and it was TV campaigns that helped spread the word. Whether in animated form, or live, lying on the bread shelf in the supermarket, there wasn't much that Murray wouldn't do to sell his product. Lender's Bagels was sold to Kraft food in 1985, but Murray remained with the company to continue his work as spokesman. Murray was forever passionate about the concept of frozen foods and became involved in all associations directed at strengthening its image. He was Chairman of the National Frozen Food Association (NFFA), as well as the chairman of the 50th Anniversary of Frozen Foods, a national promotion staged in 1980. He pioneered and co- chaired the first National Frozen Food Month in March of 1984, an industry wide month of promotional retail and foodservice activity among frozen food manufacturers. Murray would never go a day dressed without a penguin - the frozen food marketing symbol - whether it be a tie, a pin, socks or a hat. He was recognized by this industry with numerous awards throughout his lifetime. In more recent years, Murray has directed his focus toward philanthropic work, and his energy and creative thinking have has a major impact on anything he undertook, particularly in his hometown of New Haven. Active in both the local Jewish community, as well as his Alma Mater, Quinnipiac University, Murray's influence can be seen throughout the city, which has recognized him with a school playground in his name, the ADL Torch of Liberty Award, and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Quinnipiac University , to name a few. He currently resides in Aventura, Florida, formerly of Woodbridge, Connecticut. Murray was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Rose Lender, his two sisters, Anna and Helen, and his two brothers Hymen and Samuel. Murray is survived by his wife, Gilda Winnick Lender of Aventura; daughter & son-in-law Haris Lender & Evan Cohn, St. Petersburg, FL; son Carl Lender, Sunrise, FL; son Jay Lender, Los Angeles, CA; eight grandchildren, one brother, Marvin Lender, Naples, FL; and numerous nieces and nephews. Funeral services will be held at Congregation B'Nai Jacob in Woodbridge CT Sunday, March 25th at 2:00 PM. A period of mourning will be observed at 7 Country Club Drive Woodbridge CT on Monday and Tuesday between 1 PM and 4 PM and Monday and Tuesday between 6:30 and 8:30 PM. The Family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, Quinnipiac University, The or ADL. View this Guest Book at www. MiamiHerald.com/obituaries.
Published in the Miami Herald on Mar. 23, 2012
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