In Memory of Melvin L. Gold
Melvin Leonard Gold, one of the nation's foremost actuaries, passed away at his Teaneck home on Memorial Day after a well-fought battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 88.
Born Feb. 10, 1926, in Philadelphia to Reba (formerly Kligman) and Phillip, Gold grew up during the Depression as the only child of his older immigrant parents and the half-brother of Al, Edith, Norma, Rose, and Sylvia. A brilliant student, he made his own way in the world. He earned a full scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania and although his studies were interrupted for U.S. Navy service during World War II, he graduated in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He became an actuary at The Prudential in Newark and passed the stringent actuarial exams on the first try. He became a fellow of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) in 1952 and was a member of the SOA Board of Directors from 1977 to 1980.
After marrying Shifra "Sherry" Gerber, the couple moved to Israel, where Gold worked for Migdal Insurance. When they returned to the Unites States, they settled in West Orange, N.J., where Gold later founded Melvin L. Gold & Associates, a leading actuarial consultancy firm. He was instrumental in the growth of several insurance companies, most notably Presidential Life, and served on the board for years.
Gold was ahead of his time on an array of professional, social and health issues. For example, about 20 years ago, in a letter to the editor of the New York Times, he took to task an article about Social Security reform that did not discuss what he believed was a "clear solution"—promptly raising the retirement age to 70, and then beyond as life expectancies increased. In another favorite letter in the New York Times, he suggested all election ballots include an option for voters to select, "None of the above."
Gold enjoyed being unconventional. In college, he proactively partnered with a black bridge player when others wouldn't consider it. Despite being excluded from numerous tournaments because of race the duo became nationally ranked college champions. When Best's Review insurance magazine wanted to put him on the cover, they asked for a photo. Instead of a headshot, he sent one showing him jogging past the ancient pyramids in Egypt.
In philanthropy, he was most passionate about Israel and Judaism, strongly supporting Yiddish culture and Young Judaea. He was a world traveler, sculptor and athlete. He ran the Jersey Shore Marathon in middle age and loved sailing on Bantam Lake, Conn., where he summered for the last 50 years. He had gusto for life unmatched except by his loving wife and partner-in-adventure for 64 years. They loved to sing and dance, and Gold was expected to belt out "Tum Balalaika" and dance the kazatske at every family celebration.
He is survived by Shifra; his four children—Charles of New York, N.Y., and his wife, Anne Kohn; Neil of Fair Lawn, N.J.; Ronald of Saddle River, N.J., and his wife, Betsy August Gold; and Nina of Fair Lawn, N.J., and her husband, Raviv Ron; and his seven grandchildren—Stephanie, Jacqueline, Alexandra, Samuel, and Jacob Gold, and Avital and Maya Ron. Donations are appreciated and can be sent to Young Judaea, 575 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY, 10018, or The National Yiddish Theatre — Folksbiene, 90 John Street, New York, NY, 10038.