Morton J. Crane, 94, passed away in Fort Myers, Florida on Thursday, December 19, after battling cancer for over 11 years.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 8, 1925, to Esther Mae Schenker and Benjamin Franklin Crane.
Mort graduated from Sullivan High School in 1942 and graduated from the Technologiacal Institue of Northwestern University in 1945 as a member of the Tau Beta Pi national engineering honorary fraternity.
He worked for the Chicago Milwaukee Railroad on a Co-op program through Northwestern and after graduating he worked for Hollabird & Root Architects in Chicago. In June of 1946, he formed Consolidated Construction Company. In June of 1947 he formed Crane Construction Company, which is still in existence today.
In 1971, Crane Construction was 172nd amoung US contractors based upon volume. By the late 1970’s Crane Construction Co. employed more than 300 people erecting some of the most well-known buildings in Chicago and other major cities across the country. In Chicago, among numerous buildings considered pacesetters in the construction industry, Crane Construction Company built Lake Point Tower, Outer Drive East, Mid-Continental Plaza and Ontario Place. Outside of Chicago, he worked in Detroit, New Orleans, Long Boat Key and Las Vegas, where he built the original Caesars palace.
During Mort’s career in the construction industry, he was instrumental in eliminating unfair hiring practices within the United States Gypsum and Otis Elevator companies.
In August of 1972, he was honored as Man of the Year on the cover of Engineering News Record for his work in getting minorities into forbidden trades. Paul King, Executive Director of Chicago’s United Builder’s Association at the time, stated “Mort Crane has been the most positive influence in contributions as far as minority subcontractor’s involvement.” In 1983, Crane Construction Company received the only award ever granted for the utilization of minority business enterprises by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Also, under Mort’s leadership, Crane’s affirmative action and equal employment opportunity efforts were recognized by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Chicago Urban League, the United States Department of Labor, the Contractor’s Employment Association, the Builder’s Association of Chicago and the Chicago Economic Development Corporation.
After retiring to Fort Myers, Mort served on the Boards of the Southwest Florida Symphony and the Lee County Alliance of the Arts.
Mort was an avid tennis player. In March of 2005, he was honored by the Men’s 50 Plus Tennis League of Lee County for over fifteen years of service. In honoring Mort, it was said that he “was the driving force” and “stepped up to the task, unselfishly serving this organization.” Over
the span of 15 years, Mort led this organization from a small beginning to its membership of 1,000 players in 2005. Today it has 1,600 members.
Mort was a long-time collector of maritime antiques. Among the many items were ship models, paintings and scrimshaw. He also collected Clipper Ship Cards, and at one time held the second largest collection in the country.
He is survived by his wife Beth (nee Hart) of 40 years, his son Jeffrey (Debra) Crane and daughter Donna (Mark) Chudacoff. He is further survived by grandchildren Leslie (Brad) Hammerman, Carrie (Andrew) Block, Michael (Jessica) Chudacoff, Jamie Chudacoff and Scott Chudacoff and great grandchildren Ari and Noa Block and three nephews. He is also survived by his mother-in-law Phyllis Hart, sister-in-law Augusta Crane and sister-in-law and brother-in-law Marcia and Jeffrey Baker.
Mort was predeceased by his parents and older brother Edgar Crane.
Beth wishes to give a special thank you to Dr. William N. Harwin and the staff at Florida Cancer Specialists for their extraordinary care and kindness during these many years. She also thanks the Hope Healthcare Team for their expertise and the compassionate care they provided to Mort and her.
A Memorial Service for Mort will be held at Temple Beth El, 16225 Winkler Road, Fort Myers, Florida 33908, (239) 433-0018, on Monday, December 23, at 2:00 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, please help support cancer patients in financial need by making a charitable donation to the Florida Cancer Specialists Foundation, 5204 Paylor Lane, Sarasota, FL, 34240.
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