Martin Lifshitz 1926-2022

I was very sad to learn that Martin Lifshitz (Marty to his colleagues, Muttle to his nearest and dearest), my father’s best friend, and an extremely close friend of our family for my whole life, passed away last night. He would have been 96 on August 9th.

My father could not have had a better, closer friend. They were close since they were young, and Muttle was extremely supportive of my father throughout his whole life. I will forever be grateful for that.

They created a circle of friends, the Yackles, which grew stronger and wider with extended families throughout their lives.

They continued to talk on the phone all the time, even when they lived apart and had their own special “sign off” message together.

Muttle, and his wife, Mimi, always seemed to be a part of my life when I was growing up. It’s all but impossible to think of him not being here. He continued to email me even up to just a few months ago, letting me know how he was doing, and responding to my blog posts. Recently he promised to take some photos on his iPhone and email me some pictures.

In his last email to me, during the hanami season in Tokyo, he responded to a blog post of cherry blossoms in full bloom and wrote, “Your photos are beautiful and you look good too. I love hot weather. 85 would be good and that is why I live in Florida.  Most days it is 80 something which is just right for me. Love your blogs. Keep it up. Love, Muttle.” 

I think this is from 1941. Muttle (top center – you can imagine what his personality was like as a teenager!) and my father (front right) took this in Coney Island. The caption, which Muttle wrote, says “Heshy’s driving so I’m leaving.” Heshy was my father’s nickname among the Yackles, the circle of friends they created, and which lasted they whole lives.
A colorized version of the Coney Island photo.
I visited New York in 2000 and a group of family friends went out together. Around the table, from the left, are Millie, Sam, Ruthie, Mimi, me, Muttle, and Oscar. All those family friends have since passed. To me this was the core group of family friends.
In November 2000 I visited NY to give a seminar, and rented a short-term condo on East 10th. Muttle and Mimi came to visit me and check things out and make sure everything was set up well for me.
Mom, Muttle, Dad, and Oscar during a visit to Boston in 2003.
Muttle visiting my dad and mom in Boston, 2004.
This was fun. In 2007, while visiting New York, Muttle and I got it in our heads to visit the neighborhood I was born in in Brooklyn. My grandparents had an apartment building on Strauss Street, and a grocery on the corner. Muttle drove us over and we got out to look around. Needless to say the neighborhood had changed. We were clearly out of place. While looking around, a big car with tinted windows stopped, and the big, hulking guy you see got out and asked us what we were doing. Muttle explained that my grandparents used to own the place and I had lived there, and they immediately became best buds, and the current owner gave us a complete tour!
When we went out to eat with some friends in 2007 I managed to take a short video of Muttle saying hello.
Mimi, Muttle, my mother, and Cathy in August 2009, just a couple of weeks after my father passed away.
Muttle visiting mom later in 2009. This was a few months after my father passed away.
During another visit, this time in 2014, Muttle went out to eat with Cathy and my mother.
Marcia and Rebecca also came along when we all went out.
Muttle talking at the Yackles’ 75th reunion in 2018. Next to him are Sammy and Marcia.
After Mimi passed away, Muttle eventually remarried a long-time childhood friend, also named Mimi whose husband had passed away. They lived independently together for 7 years and just a few months ago they moved into assisted living together. Mimi and I still play Words with Friends together. I’m so glad they were both able to rediscover each other and fill each other’s lives for a relatively long time.

Now Muttle will be returning to New York to be laid to rest in the family grave with the Mimi I knew for so long.

My thoughts are with everybody in the family, and filled with good memories.

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