Morton Rechler, co-founder of Jericho-based real estate development firm The We'Re Group and the engineer behind some of the earliest aluminum furniture, died Saturday in Manalapan, Florida, of natural causes. He was 93.
Rechler's real estate company, founded in the 1960s, built the Lake Success Quadrangle -- one of the region's first office parks -- in addition to Huntington Quadrangle, Jericho Quadrangle and other office and industrial properties in Plainview and along Route 110.
Rechler was an aeronautical engineer by training.
Born to Michael and Yetta Rechler in Brooklyn, he enlisted in 1941 in the Army Air Corps, where he worked on some of the nation's earliest efforts in rocket technology as a commissioned second lieutenant. While in the service, he studied at the NYU Guggenheim School of Aeronautics.
After his military service, Rechler returned home and went into business with his brother William and brother-in-law Jack Wexler in 1946. Their company manufactured what his family said were the first folding lawn and beach chairs made of lightweight aluminum. Rechler filed and secured nine patents for various chair designs from 1949 through 1957.
"He was a no-nonsense guy," said nephew Donald Rechler, partner at real estate firm Rechler Equity Partners. Donald, who for a short time worked at the furniture company and later had business dealings with his uncle, said Rechler was "a tough negotiator but very fair and honorable."
After selling the furniture company to a predecessor of Gulf + Western Industries -- one of the nation's early conglomerates -- the partners leveraged their experience building three manufacturing plants for their furniture business and went into real estate development.
The family business went on to build the first industrial park in New York City in Brooklyn in 1958, kick-starting what would eventually become a family real estate dynasty spanning three generations and several companies, including The We'Re Group, RXR Realty and Rechler Equity Partners.
Rechler and Wexler founded The We'Re Group, which has built more than 10 million square feet of office and industrial space on the Island since its founding. William Rechler would go on to start what would later become Reckson Associates Realty Corp.
Morton Rechler, a resident of Kings Point, moved to Florida later, becoming a wood sculptor in his free time, family members said. Rechler and his wife, Beverley, gave to several charitable entities, including the American Technion Society, a fundraising organization that supports the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel.
"Their dedication to the students and faculty of the Technion was inspiring," said Jerry Kleinman, director of ATS' New York region.
In addition to his wife, Rechler is survived by his children, Bennett, partner at The We'Re Group, Hannah Rabinowitz and Yvetta Newman; five grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. He is predeceased by son Daniel. Rechler's family will hold a private funeral service.