The Rotary Club of Statesboro recognized one of Statesboro's most noted businessmen, Ike Minkovitz, Monday with a posthumous honor, naming him a Will Watt Fellow. The club voted recently to present the Will Watt Fellowship to Minkovitz's family, who attended Monday's meeting.
Minkovitz would have been 100 years old Sunday. He was a charter member of the Rotary Club of Statesboro, which was founded Jan. 25, 1937. Minkovitz was named Rotary's Man of the Year in 1974 and named a Paul Harris Fellow in 1980.
Rotary Member Charles Brown presented the award, preceding it with a little history about the Minkovitz family. Ike's parents met at Ellis Island after moving from Poland and Russia in the late 1800s. They worked in clothing factories in New York City where they met and later married, he said.
“When Ike was 9 months old they moved to Brooklet … and founded a business there in 1911,” he said. “His dad sold piece goods, boots and overalls to farmers in the area from his horse and buggy.”
Later the family moved to Sylvania and formed H. Minkovitz and Sons department store and “five and dime” store, Brown said. By age 9, “Ike was running the cash register at the store and was also running the local movie theater.” By age 16, he entered the University of Georgia and graduated in 1930. He returned home to Sylvania, but later moved to Statesboro and opened H. Minkovitz and sons, serving as president and general manager, he said.
Minkovitz was awarded the Bronze Star after serving 30 months in the 15th Air Force during World War II, including 23 months in Italy with the 459th bombardment group. He served as staff sergeant.
In 1941, Ike Minkovitz was president of the Statesboro-Bulloch County Chamber of Commerce. In 1952 he served as chairman of the Red Cross blood program and was named county chairman of the Red Cross in 1955. He also served as a member of the Bulloch County Industrial Development Executive Committee.
Minkovitz served as the Forest Heights Country Club president in 1954-55, and was instrumental in the country club's formation and its golf course. He also served as county chairman of the Georgia Southern College Foundation, was a commissioned member of the Governor's staff and served on the Rotary Club of Statesboro's board of directors.
Brown said Minkovitz was also a volunteer counselor for the Department of Offender Rehabilitation, and he, along with fellow Statesboro businessman Harvey Rosengart, “were tireless fund raisers for the United Jewish Appeal,” driving all over the state collecting donations.
Brown described Minkovitz as a “cheerful, kind and warm man.” As he called several members of the Minkovitz family to the stage to accept the posthumous award, Minkovitz's daughter, Donna Minkovitz Darracott, spoke.
“I am real pleased that Rotary has done this for Dad,” she said. Recalling her father's kindness, she said “he always had time for me. He was very generous, very kind.”
Her brother, David Minkovitz, also spoke. “I would like to thank Rotary for the honor for my dad,” he said. “He was a very special person.”
The club sponsored Minkovitz' being named as a Will Watt Fellow, donating money to the Rotary Club Foundation to help fund scholarships.
The club awarded two scholarships Monday to area high school seniors. Southeast Bulloch High School student Natasha Polite and Statesboro High School student Alexis Blalek each received a scholarship for $1,000.