by Mia Summerson
Niagara Gazette — Last October Carmen Hamilton, a member of the Rotary Club of Niagara Falls, attended a memorial ceremony, honoring members who had recently passed away in Rotary District 7090.
It occurred to her that the local chapter of the club didn’t have a similar event for their deceased members, of which there were four in the past two years. So, in their honor, a service was held on Dec. 11.
Rotary Clubs, which began as a resistance to the polio endemic, are a series of organizations composed of professionals who aim to create general goodwill and peace and maintaining high ethical standards.
The four Rotarians who were honored at the service were Morton H. Abramowitz, Bryant Kurtzman, both attorneys, Henry Borgese, a filmmaker and Arthur B. Ray, a CPA.
Abramowitz joined the club in 1974. A lifelong resident of Niagara Falls and a veteran of WWII, he was respected for his knowledge of municipal law and held many legal positions that served the Niagara Falls government and community.
“Service is the highest honor of any public servant,” Abramowitz once said. His community service resume included time spent volunteering with the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.
Kurtzman, who was also a life-long Niagara Falls resident and veteran, joined the club in 1977. He went to law school at the University of Buffalo. As an attorney he served as confidential law clerk to two New York Supreme Court Justices and was also the president of the Niagara Falls Bar Association.
He started his community service early on in life, by working at his parent’s grocery as a kid. He was served in the past as a president of the Niagara Falls Rotary Club and also of the Parkway Condominiums. He was a member of the Kiwanis Club as well.
Borgese, who joined the Rotary Club in 1999, was known as someone who not only participated in community service in Niagara Falls, but also abroad in Europe. He spent time living in Rome, went to school in France and in 1951 he became the Niagara Falls Community Ambassador to Holland. He was also served in the United States Army.
“People learn to live together by living together,” was his motto. He donated his family’s property, the former Star Bottling Corporation, to contribute to Niagara Falls' Italian culture by forming the Henry Borgese Italian Heritage Museum and Cultural Center.
Ray, the final member honored at the service, a lifelong Niagara Falls resident and CPA, joined the Rotary Club in 1981. He maintained an interest in business throughout his life and in 1972 he opened his accounting firm A.B. Ray and Associates.
He was the first African American to serve on the Niagara Falls Board of Education. He was also a member of the Deacons Fellowship of Niagara Gideon’s International, Electric City Lodge 49 and the Black Pioneers. His life passions were cooking and dedicating time to family, friends and the community.
A candle lighting and bell ringing ceremony was held to commemorate each of the four deceased members and their lives of service.