Benjamin Harrison Frankel of Hastings passed away at his home on Wednesday, May 27, at age 89.
Ben was born on Nov. 13, 1930 in Trenton, N.J., to Fannie (Lavine) and Abraham Frankel. From his father, Ben absorbed a diligence in observation and how to discern what was important. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard Law School, and spent his entire career at Kelley Drye, LLP, where he served as head of the Real Estate Department. He was a leader in joint venture agreements and an expert on three-dimensional real estate. His greatest satisfaction came from training younger lawyers — he was not an easy mentor, but for those who passed his test, the rewards were lifelong.
Ben served as president of PEF Israel Endowment Funds, was among the founders and first presidents of Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings, and was a member of the Village of Hastings Recreation Commission. He was an environmentalist and avid hiker, traversing trails from England to Japan, and was a legendary volunteer supervisor of the South Taconic Trails for more than two decades.
Ben had an insatiable intellectual curiosity, studying subjects as varied as philosophy, literature, and mathematics. He once penned a scholarly article in which he developed a mathematical model to gauge the likelihood of Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak ever being surpassed (he calculated the odds at slim to none).
There was nothing Ben enjoyed more than telling a good story. With a twinkle in his eye, and just the right pauses for effect (he was a fan of Jack Benny), he could turn any ho-hum tale into one that captivated an audience, including his seven grandchildren.
Ben is survived by his wife of 61 years, Phyllis Frankel; daughters Faith (Howard) Levy, Rachel Frankel, and Eleanor Frankel (Tom Frank); and grandchildren Abraham (Jenna Krieger), Ethan, and Joseph Levy, Emanuel and Jonah Anastos, and Jeremy and Sylvia Frank.