Mac Trachtenberg, 1917-2005

Mac Trachtenberg, father, trade unionist and community supporter, died April 17 in California. He was 87.

Born on Aug. 10, 1917, Trachtenberg grew up in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and with his brothers played handball and stickball on the streets of New York. A devoted son and brother, he worked by day to help support his family during the Great Depression of the 1930s and went to high school at night. He enlisted in the Army during World War II and traveled throughout Burma, surviving malaria and capturing the experience of an American GI with his box camera. After an honorable discharge, Trachtenberg enrolled at New York University and studied economics, politics, history and philosophy.

Trachtenberg never forgot the hardship and stress of taking care of a family during the Depression, when jobs virtually disappeared. Trachtenberg felt a responsibility to do his part to support working people in “getting a fair shake,” and especially to fight against the racial prejudice he had witnessed. In Trachtenberg’s view, there was only one race — the human race.

In 1959, Trachtenberg and his wife Joy moved their family to Los Angeles. During a family trip to a park in 1960, Trachtenberg introduced himself to some men he saw playing handball. A new tapestry of friendship, sports, and community involvement, anchored at the Mid-Valley YMCA, was begun. While working hard in his day job as a Teamster, Trachtenberg found time to care of elderly family members, raise his children with his beloved Joy, and play in handball tournaments. He coordinated the YMCA’s annual “Handball Awards Banquet” and was an enthusiastic volunteer and fundraiser for Y programs.

Trachtenberg was a loving father, and devoted grandfather, instilling in his children and grandchildren the importance of conducting one’s life with thought and integrity.