Marvin Zachariah Botnick, the longtime publisher of The Jewish Georgian, died Jan. 17. He was 85.
Botnick was president of The Temple in the 1980s and was instrumental in the creation of Atlanta’s first homeless shelter for couples. A native of Hattiesburg, Miss., Marvin passed away surrounded by his family at his home in Sandy Springs after a courageous four-year battle with cancer.
A man of multiple talents who began his professional career in banking, Marvin spent his later years editing his newspaper, volunteering in the community and visiting with his seven grandchildren. He loved to read, discuss Judaism and visit with relatives. Marvin arrived in Atlanta in 1956 after completing his secondary education at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. He then went to Duke University, where he was a four-year letterman in lacrosse and a member of Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society. He then spent two years as a sergeant in the U.S. Army Finance Corps.
When he first came to Atlanta, Marvin was hired by the First National Bank of Atlanta, where he was the city’s first Jewish commercial loan officer. In 1972 he was named to the Mercantile National Bank board of directors and became chairman of the board and chief executive officer.
Marvin became involved in multiple charities and volunteer organizations. He was president of The Temple in 1984, where he proposed a plan to open the Temple Night Shelter for the Homeless, the first and only shelter for homeless couples in the city. Since then, the now Zaban Paradies Center for Homeless Couples has its own building on The Temple campus and has helped keep couples together as they move from homelessness to finding permanent places to live.
“Marvin had the wisdom and understanding of Judaism and the commitment to the concept of social justice which is based on our prophetic tradition,’’ said Alvin Sugarman, rabbi emeritus at The Temple. “He presented this to the board, saying, ‘Let’s make a real commitment to the world that is based on our prophetic tradition.’ So, when the opportunity of the shelter arose, he didn’t have to go through a discussion with the board of whether we should do it or shouldn’t do it. And in less than 10 days, the shelter became a reality.’’
Marvin served as president and treasurer of Jewish Children’s Services, helped set up the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce (now Conexx), and served on the board of Jewish National Fund. Marvin was also on the board of directors of the Joseph B. Whitehead Boys Club; was treasurer and a member of the executive committee at Inner Harbour, a psychiatric residential treatment center for youth; and a board member at the Atlanta Jewish Community Center.
He brought his love for lacrosse to Atlanta by founding the Atlanta Lacrosse Club and later coaching. He served as president of the Jewish Educational Loan Fund, which gives interest-free loans to students in the South, and was a founder of Jewish Interest Free Loans of Atlanta.
In 1992, along with help from Sam Appel, Marvin became involved with The Jewish Georgian, ultimately becoming publisher of the bimonthly paper that is distributed free throughout the metro area and other Jewish communities in Georgia. His columns, on the inside cover of each edition, brought thoughtful attention to Jewish teachings and a variety of community events.
Marvin, whose Jewish name is Mordechai Zalman ben Herschel v’Malka ha-Levi, will be lovingly remembered by his wife of 60 years, Miriam; children Karen Paz (Roy Cranman), Beth Ann (IJ) Rosenberg, and Harris (Geri) Botnick; and grandchildren Jonathan and Danielle Paz, Ashley (Alex Carey), Lindsey and Chase Rosenberg, and Molli and Logan Botnick.
He is survived by his brother Dr. Robert Botnick (Lelia) of Augusta, Ga., and several nieces and nephews. Marvin was preceded in death by his parents, Harry and Mollie Botnick.
A memorial service was held Jan. 20 at The Temple followed by interment at Arlington Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Temple or The Jewish Georgian archive at The Breman Museum.