Walter S. “Wally” Mander was a refuge from Nazi Germany who arrived in the U.S. in 1940. Mr. Mander was born Walter S. Mandelbaum in 1922 and raised on a farm in the tiny village of Aub, Germany. As hostilities against Jews increased in the mid-1930s, Wally was sent by his family to an agricultural school in East Prussia.
With the events of Kristallnacht in November 1938, his family, along with many others in their Jewish community, were given a month to leave Germany, with most of their property confiscated. The family escaped to Switzerland, where they obtained documents to emigrate to the U.S. After a stop in England, Wally and his family arrived in Chicago in July 1940, settling in Hyde Park where they had friends and relatives.
As with most German refugees, the family took very little with them and arrived almost penniless. Because of his familiarity with the meat business, Wally sought work at the Chicago Stockyards, beginning as a floor sweeper with the Armour Meatpacking Company. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the Pacific until the end of the war. After his service, Wally returned to Chicago and worked for a succession of meatpacking companies, striking out on his own in 1952 as a minority shareholder in Lincoln Meat Company, a slaughterhouse at 3800 S. Halsted in Chicago. Over the next three decades, Wally became majority owner of the company and purchased a large farm in Crown Point, Indiana, where he raised cattle.
In 1971, the Chicago Stockyards closed but Lincoln Meat Company continued to purchase and slaughter cattle until 1990, when Wally closed the company due to increased competition in the industry. Lincoln Meat’s companion business, Lincoln Provision, continued as a meat processor and distributor and is still in business today, operating at 824 W. 38th Place in Chicago.
In addition to his commitment to the cattle and meatpacking industry, Wally was an accomplished pilot who often flew to remote ranches throughout the U.S. to purchase cattle. He was a long-time member of the Board of Directors and a judge for the International Livestock Exhibition, held annually at the International Amphitheater during the 1950s and 60s.
In 1994, he had created the Walter S. Mander Foundation to support his charitable interests.
Wally Mander died of cancer in Chicago in 1999 at the age of 77. After his death, the Foundation inherited a substantial portion of his estate and is now dedicated to supporting causes and organizations that reflect his interests and the determination and resourcefulness that are hallmarks of his unique story.