Leonard and Renee Minsky sit in the hospital room that sparked a million-dollar donation to EMMC in Bangor. Credit: Kevin Bennett / BDN

Leonard Minsky, the former president of Superior Paper Products in Bangor whose philanthropic endeavors in the Bangor region supported health care, education, literacy and the arts, died on Monday.

Minsky, 94, died after a brief illness, according to his obituary published in the Bangor Daily News.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins on Wednesday recalled Minsky as a close friend, former neighbor and a pillar of the Bangor community and the state.

“My husband Tom and I loved having dinner with Len and his wife Renee, and appreciated Len’s great sense of humor, appreciation for the arts, and devotion to Bangor and to the State of Maine,” Collins said Wednesday. “The Minskys’ generosity to the University of Maine, Northern Light Hospital, St. Joseph Health Care, arts organizations, and so many other worthy causes was truly extraordinary.”

Minsky was born on July 11, 1927, in Bangor, the son of Russian Jewish immigrants Myer and Mae Minsky. After Mae’s death, Myer married Bess Minsky when Leonard was 13.

After serving as a U.S. Merchant Marine officer during World War II, Minsky graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maine in 1950 with a degree in business administration. In 1956 he married Renee Michaelson; they were married for nearly 66 years and had one daughter, Marilyn. They both survive him, as do a son-in-law, two granddaughters and his brother, Bangor lawyer Norman Minsky.

Minsky spent 42 years as owner and president of Superior Paper Products Inc., a wholesale paper products distribution firm that started as a confectionary company founded by his father in 1919. In 1989, Leonard Minsky sold Superior Paper Products to Packaging Corporation of America.

He was a founding director of Merrill Merchants Bank of Bangor, and of Network Services Company of Schaumburg, Illinois, where he also served as chair of the board. He was also the former chair of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. He served as president of the Bangor Historical Society, the Jewish Community Council and the Bangor Lions Club, and was a Mason and Shriner.

The Minskys donated millions of dollars over the years to an array of causes in Maine, with a special focus on the arts, literacy, education and health care. Among the many places named for Minsky and his wife are Minsky Recital Hall and the Minsky Gallery at the Hudson Museum, both at the University of Maine, and the Leonard and Renee Minsky Children’s Room at the Bangor Public Library.

Though their large donations made headlines, Bangor Daily News publisher Richard Warren said it was Minsky’s quieter influence that also made a big impact.

“​​Leonard was quietly influential in both the Bangor community, Husson University and

the University of Maine,” Warren said. “He was the consummate gentleman’s gentleman.”

The Minskys donated $1 million to the 2013 expansion at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, with a wing of the expansion named for them. They also established charitable funds through the Maine Community Foundation, for which Minsky also served on the board.

Minsky was a longtime congregant at Conservative synagogue Congregation Beth Israel, and was active in Jewish causes in both Maine and Florida, including with the Bangor Jewish Community Endowment Associates, as treasurer of Temple Bat Yam of Sanibel, and president of Chavurat Shalom of Southwest Florida.

Rabbi Bill Siemers of Congregation Beth Israel said Minsky was passionate about Judaism in general, and its role in current events.

“He was a fixture at communal discussions and would bring along articles to inspire conversation. He had a well-informed view, but was always interested in what others thought,” Siemers said. “Leonard was always challenging us to look outward, to see our mission to heal the world in its widest possible sense. He was a true mensch.”

Among the many awards Minsky received during his lifetime were the Norbert X. Dowd Award from the Bangor Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Stillwater Presidential Award, Vincent Hartgen Award and the Black Bear Award from the University of Maine. In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Maine.

Minsky and his wife were avid travelers, having visited 90 countries around the world. He was a lifelong trumpet player in marching and dance bands in Bangor and in their winter home in Sanibel Island, Florida. He also played tennis and biked well into his 90s, according to his obituary.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Minsky Lecture Hall was named for Leonard Minsky.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.