Brothers’ Scholarship Honors Mother’s Emigrant Experience

Family with strong UMKC ties furthers future success
Doris Edelman aboard the S.S. Rotterdam

Doris Edelman fled Germany with her family when she was a teenager as violence began to build against Jewish citizens. She instilled the value of education into her three sons, Mark, Alan and Ron, who have established an endowed scholarship in her name. 

“My mother was the principal influence in our lives,” Mark Edelman, J.D. ’75, says of he and his brothers Ron, J.D. ’82 and Alan. “She was German, so there were certain cultural imperatives that worked their way into our home. Her expectations for us were high.”

Doris Edelman’s family left Germany in 1938 following Kristallnacht, or “the night of the broken glass,” in which paramilitary troops demolished synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses and buildings. The event was a precursor to the rise of the Nazi party and the “final solution” to eliminate the Jewish race. Doris’ family sailed to Cuba on the S.S. Rotterdam, one of the last ships bringing refugees from Europe that was allowed to dock in the Americas.

“They were in Cuba for a year and a half before they moved to Kansas City,” Edelman says.

Edelman’s grandfather had owned a men’s clothing store with its own workroom in Germany. A cousin sponsored the family’s immigration to the United States and Brand and Puritz, a Kansas City Garment District manufacturer, offered his grandfather a job.

“My mother was the principal influence in our lives.” - Mark Edelman

Eventually, Doris Edelman enrolled in Kansas City University and earned degrees in Spanish and economics in 1947. Her husband, William, earned a psychology degree from the university in 1954 while supporting the family as a practicing physician.

“My mother was a very bright woman,” Edelman says. “After she graduated KCU, she translated overseas cables for Butler Manufacturing. She became the first woman vice president and partner at B. C. Christopher & Co., a securities and brokerage firm. She loved going to work and being a part of that business.”

In addition to work, education was very important to Doris.

“I wanted to be a filmmaker,” Edelman says. “She did not think that was very serious. She said, ‘Mark, you can always be a filmmaker if you go to law school, but you can’t be a lawyer if you go to film school.’

I forgot to say ‘I don’t want to be a lawyer.’ So I ended up in law school at UMKC, which turned out to be a great foundation for my career.”

Edelman’s connection to the university began years before law school.

“My parents took advantage of all the things an urban campus like UMKC can provide to the city,” he says. “My love of the theater grew from my experiences of going to the Missouri Rep while in high school.”

“When my brothers and I began to think about what we could do to honor her memory, we decided that a scholarship that would enable refugees like my mother to have an education was the best thing to do.”- Mark Edelman

Edelman founded the Theater League, Inc., a not-for-profit performing arts organization that presented the best of Broadway to Kansas City audiences for 42 years. He built the Quality Hill Playhouse and produces 12th Street Jump, a syndicated public radio show hosted on KCUR-FM 89.3, another UMKC institution.

His brother Ron and Alan’s son Alex also attended UMKC law school. The family will be recognized with the 2020 Legacy Award at the UMKC Alumni Awards ceremony which will take place in spring of 2021. Their deep and broad connection to the university contributed to honoring Doris Edelman with a scholarship.

“When my brothers and I thought about how we could best honor her memory, we decided on a scholarship that would enable refugees like her to get a college education,” Edelman says. “I think she’d like that. She was proud of us and I think she’d be proud of our association with the university.”


For more information about scholarships, please contact Financial Aid and Scholarships.

Published: Jun 23, 2020
Posted In: Giving

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