Ronald Morton Mankoff, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend, died on June 27, 2023.
Born on the Cheyenne River Reservation near Gettysburg, South Dakota, on Oct. 13, 1931, Ron was delivered by a Sioux midwife. The local doctor was away at the start of pheasant season. Parents Sarah Frank Mankoff and Harry Mankoff closed the family store as a result of the Depression and resettled in Minneapolis, where “Ronny” and sister Marilyn were raised.
Ron entered the University of Minnesota, where he joined the ROTC and was president of his Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity chapter. His fraternity encouraged brothers to pursue an extracurricular activity and Ron chose debate. He won the National AZA Oratory Contest and the University of Minnesota Pillsbury Oratory Competition. In 1950, his University of Minnesota Debate Team won the Big 10 Debate Tournament and Ron was named Outstanding Debater. In 1954, he graduated from the University of Minnesota Law School, after serving on the Law Review.
Ron entered the United States Navy as an ensign and served on ships in the Atlantic. During a shore leave in the Virgin Islands, he met the love of his life, Joy Shechtman, who was on vacation with her parents. After the Navy, and in pursuit of Joy, who was then living in New York, Ron (who had no previous interest in tax) enrolled in the tax program at New York University Law School. In 1959 he and Joy married and settled in Dallas, where Jerome Frank, one of Ron’s favorite uncles, lived.
Ron’s law firm motto was “The practice of law in a congenial environment.” He worked hard for his clients but managed to be home by 5:45 for dinner with his family. Ron practiced tax law for 20 years with Wentworth T. Durant and then with successor firms that carried the Mankoff name. Ron tried and argued more than 50 tax cases and appeals, among them the often-cited Commissioner vs. Tufts decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. He taught partnership tax at SMU Law School and was a sought-after lecturer and author on tax subjects. Over the years, Ron invested in various business opportunities. In 1994, he invested in a sub-prime lending company run by Dan Phillips. Ron later became chairman of the company, which went public as First Plus Financial.
Ron’s participation in Dallas community activities began in 1962 when, as president of the North Dallas Homeowners Association, he successfully opposed toll-road overpasses through Preston Hollow. In 2001, he was president of the NorthPark Area HOA, which successfully resisted a high-rise office park near Caruth Haven. Ron served as chair or president of several other Dallas community organizations including Temple Emanu-El, American Jewish Committee, American Cancer Society and the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. He served on the national boards of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Center for Interreligious Understanding.
Ron and Joy delighted in giving back to their community. Ron supported many organizations including the Dallas Opera, Dallas Symphony, Jewish Community Relations Council, Dallas Institute of Humanities & Culture, Dallas Municipal Library, AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas Theater Center, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Zeta Beta Tau Foundation, Dallas Assembly, Planned Parenthood, Dallas Women’s Foundation and URJ Greene Family Camp. Ron and Joy were particularly proud of bringing PJ Library to North Texas.
Ron was a lifelong Democrat who never stopped trying to convince his Republican friends to come over to his side (to date there are no known successes from these efforts). Ron’s preferred drink was a Perfect Rob Roy, straight up with a twist. Ron read most, if not all, spy novels published in the English language.
When he retired, Ron vigorously renewed his interests in woodworking, bridge, golf, backgammon and painting. During their 64 years of marriage, Ron and Joy traveled extensively, enjoyed summers in La Jolla, were avid patrons of the opera and symphony and collected American impressionist paintings. He reveled in the accomplishments of those who survive him: his wife, Joy; their sons, Jeff and Doug; daughters-in-law, Staci Burstyn Mankoff and Marcia Weiner Mankoff; and their five grandchildren, Bradley, Michelle, Sarah, Max and Eli.
Ron requested that a contribution be made to an organization that might be surprised to receive it.
A memorial service was held June 29 at Temple Emanu-El, Stern Chapel, with a reception following.