Jack Kent Mandel won by teaching others how to succeed.
The longtime Nassau Community College marketing professor, who was never one to mince words, preached success as a black-and-white proposition. You were successful, or you weren’t, and it was all in your hands.
"He was always encouraging people to do things," said son Josh Mandel, 43, of Roslyn Heights. "You were a winner or you were a loser. He wanted all of his students to be winners."
Jack Mandel, who taught at NCC for 42 years and retired last September, died Feb. 24 of a blood-clot induced heart attack at his home in East Norwich, his family said. He was 73.
"He taught stuff that you couldn’t get out of a textbook," said friend and former colleague Mike Stallone, 47, of Kings Park. "Jack believed in communicating with other people. He always went out of his way to call you."
Jack Mandel would often paraphrase an old saying, perfectly quantifying his basic, yet effective, life view, Josh Mandel said. "There are three types of people in this world," the saying went. "Those that make things happen, those that watch what happened, and those who wonder what happened. Be someone who makes things happen."
"My dad made things happen," Josh Mandel said.
Teaching, which became a lifelong passion, was only supposed to be a small detour for Jack Mandel. After graduating with a bachelor’s degrees in business administration from Baruch College in Manhattan, he was looking to start a business related to education. He figured that having a teaching background would help him in this endeavor and got a job teaching social studies at John Wilson Junior High School in Brooklyn, said son Jason Mandel, 47, of Florida.
While teaching high school, he went back to Baruch to get his master’s in business administration.
Jack Mandel would soon realize that the business of teaching was the business he wanted to be in, and he stayed in it for 52 years.
His success was rooted in his extreme generosity and a desire to help others, friends and family said.
He taught a 7 a.m. class at NCC because he admired students who were dedicated enough to sign up for a class before heading into a day job. He once helped an illiterate student learn how to read, recognizing that the skill would be essential to that student's graduation prospects, Jason Mandel said.
Jack Mandel relished the idea that college had the potential to be transformative in people’s lives, and he wanted to be part of that.
"First day of class, he’d say: ‘This is not the 13th grade. This is your opportunity to reinvent yourself,’" said Jason Mandel. "He gave every kid a chance."
And it did not go unnoticed. He was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award by the New York State Association of Two-Year Colleges, Jason Mandel said.
Giving people a chance was Jack Mandel’s mission. As a supporter of the arts, he owned Island Craft and Business Consultants, a firm that helped local artists and small business owners market their crafts.
He edited the Long Island Arts, Fine Crafts, and Collectibles Directory, a biannual who’s who of the local arts scene. The directory was carried in libraries and sold in Barnes and Noble, Jason Mandel said.
"He helped hundreds of artists, got them into different galleries, and helped them understand at the early outset of the digital world how to sell your goods online," Jason Mandel said. "He was always studying every new innovation that was happening in the world of marketing."
Jack Mandel’s passion for artists accelerated in the early 1970s when he started his own business, Coin Concepts, which sold hand-enameled coin pendants. He had that business until the early 1990s, Jason Mandel said.
Born Dec. 31, 1947, in Brooklyn, Jack Mandel grew up in Canarsie and went to Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn. He lived in Brooklyn until 1977, when he moved to Baldwin. He also lived in Massapequa and Oyster Bay before settling in East Norwich.
"He was like the mayor of the neighborhood," said Ronni Brandi, 68, an East Norwich neighbor. "He was a character. He would come to the pool and give everybody ice cream. He would sit outside his home and was always sunbathing. Everyone just knew Jack to always be outgoing and friendly."
Jack Mandel had a deep love of Long Island culture. He was an avid boater who would spend most summer days on the water and loved going to concerts in local parks. Doo-wop and Motown music were always great loves, dating back to his college years.
He knew all the words and dance steps to ‘My Girl’ by The Temptations, said friend Philip Roth, 73, of Plainview. "He was very dynamic. He made everyone feel comfortable. He didn’t have a mean bone in his body, but he really could engage people and make them feel special."
His teaching didn’t stop at the college level, either. Jack Mandel would give lectures on business and marketing at libraries around Long Island and was often quoted as an expert in the field on News12. He was also featured in Newsday numerous times, Jason Mandel said.
In addition to Jason and Josh Mandel, Jack Mandel is survived by his former wife, Ronnie Mandel of Florida; sons Jaron Mandel of Manhattan and Jordan Mandel of Florida; brother Alan Mandel of Brooklyn; and three grandchildren.
Jack Mandel was buried at Wellwood Cemetery in West Babylon. The family has created the Prof. Jack Mandel Memorial Scholarship with NCC in his honor, Jason Mandel said.