Murray Lender, a bagel connoisseur, philanthropist and businessman, died yesterday at the age of 81.
Known for the household brand Lender’s Bagels he, along with his two brothers, changed the way Americans ate bagels, from the freezer.
Murray had such a passion for frozen food that he established and co-chaired the first National Frozen Food Month in March of 1984, was Chairman of the National Frozen Food Association (NFFA) and was the chairman of the 50th Anniversary of Frozen Foods.
Murray inherited the business, which was in the family’s backyard at the time, after graduating from the Junior College of Commerce, with a degree in business (now Quinnipiac University, in Hamden, Connecticut), and spending two years in the U.S. Army Police Military Corp.
He might have entered the business at that time, but he had grown up learning all of the logistics of the bagel business. He was in charge of marketing and sales for the small company and had innovating ideas with his little to no budget. He made the bagel a household item for all Americans.
Known for creating life-sized bagels on Johnny Carson or handing out green bagels on St. Patrick’s Day his free advertising helped boost the company’s reputation along with advertising with more established brands like Smucker’s, Welches and Philadelphia Cream Cheese.
Any type of promotion he could do he did. When the company gained more revenue they gained more of an advertising budget helping the company expand with television commercials. Murray was dedicated to the company even after it was sold in 1985, remaining as a spokesman.
Murray capitalized the frozen bagel industry, but dedicated his later years in life to philanthropic work.
He donated to his alma mater, Quinnipiac University, including the donation of the Lender School of Business.
He was active in his hometown of New Haven helping the Jewish community; he has been recognized for his work with honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Quinnipiac, a playground in his name, the ADL Torch of Liberty ward along with other form of gratitude.
Murray, a Connecticut native, most recently lived in Aventura, Florida with his wife Gilda Winnick Lender who he is survived by.
He also is survived by his daughter and son in law Haris Lender and Evan Cohn, sons Jay and Carl Lender, eight grandchildren, one brother, Marvin Lender, and nieces and nephews.
Funeral services will be held at Congregation B’Nai Jacob in Woodbridge.
The family requests that donations can be made to The Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven, The American Heart Association, Congregation B’Nai Jacob or Quinnipiac University.