Always ready with a joke, smile: Irving Margolin, 98


Irving Margolin, a resident of North Riverdale for 53 years, was treated to a surprise birthday celebration by neighbors in his apartment building on Feb. 29, the eve of his 98th birthday on March 1. Unhappily, later that night, he fell at home, breaking his hip.

On April 13, 2020, he passed away.

Interment took place April 15 in the family plot in New Jersey, only one family member in attendance because of COVID-19 restrictions.

He was born in 1922 in Montreal, the first child of Rose and Louis Margolin, who immigrated from Russia after the fall of the czar. A year later, the family immigrated to America, settling in the midst of the Bronx. In 1928, his siblings were born — twins Leona and Seymour.

He graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School and started college at New York University in the Bronx. But he was drafted into the U.S. Army at the beginning of World War II, and was deployed to the African theater, rising to the rank of corporal. While in Africa, on leave, he traveled to South Africa. There he met his “English Lady,” the love of his life, Irene. He brought her back to the Bronx, where they were married in 1945.

After the war, he joined his father’s garment industry business, Queen Stitching and Embroidery, at 5 W. 31st St., in Manhattan’s Garment District. The business initially specialized in millinery and garment trimmings. But his father died at 56, and he took over the business. He grew it to include handbags, accessories and fine blouses, as “he had an eye for design,” according to his sister, Leona.

Once, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency, the president and First Lady were in Manhattan for a special occasion. Nancy Reagan wanted a new blouse for the event. He was called upon to design and make her a new blouse, which his firm delivered with pride.

He never drove a car, never owned a car. After moving to Riverdale in 1967, he took the bus to the subway, and commuted to Manhattan on the 1 train for years until express bus service was introduced.

After retirement, and into his 90s, he continued taking the express bus into Manhattan at least three times a week to keep up with the Midtown hustle and bustle.

When Irene, his wife of 45 years, passed away, he began his routine of going out to dinner every evening in his own neighborhood, sometimes taking his neighbors to dinner. He went to a different restaurant every night, and became a patron of Riverdale Steak House, Beccofino’s, a pizza place, the Barbecue Pit, and the Bronx Burger House.

He was famous in the neighborhood for his ready smile, his ready wit, and his jokes. He loved to make people laugh, even if it meant repeating the same old jokes every time he encountered you. Throughout his 98 years, he still took a walk every afternoon, had dinner out, and told his routine jokes.

When his brother-in-law, Leslie Bander, passed away in 2017, he added to his daily walk a brief visit to his “little sister,” Leona Bander. The Margolins and the Banders had moved into the same apartment complex in the same year, and stayed.

He was preceded in death by his parents and brother Seymour. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Bruce and Elaine Margolin, and by grandson Michael Margolin.

He also is survived by his loving sister, Leona (Lee) Bander, of Riverdale.

Irving Margolin will be missed.

Irving Margolin,