Melvin Gladstein

Name: Melvin Gladstein, 1908-1993

Family: Father Louis, Mother Lilly, Brother Erven, Sister Ann, Sister Elma, Grandmother (Bubbe) Sarah Miller, Daughter Lynne, Son Michael

Melvin's uncle Moses came to Durham in 1881 to work in the cigarette factories, and his father Louis later joined him. Melvin was born in Durham. Melvin's grandmother lived in their house and she was the President of Beth El's Ladies Aid Society.

Melvin ran a men's clothing store called "Gladsteins" on Mangum Street in Durham; the business was in existence for "almost a hundred years". In Melvin's store, he sold men's wear, and many farmers came to the store because he also sold cowboy boots and overalls.

Melvin was on the Board and an officer at Beth El Synagogue, B'nai Brith and the early Jewish Federation. He was at Beth El when the congregation temporarily split in half. The Durham Morning Herald quoted him as saying, "Everytime somebody got mad, they started their own synagogue". Melvin seemed to be a more mellow person. He would spend time outside work running the Bingo games at Beth El in order to raise money for the synagogue or else playing golf.

Those who knew Melvin said he was a raconteur (a great story teller), as well as a very well-liked person in the Jewish and non-Jewish community. He belonged to several community groups, such as the Moose and Lion's clubs. He was obviously able to relate to the wider community in many different ways Melvin was on the Durham Committee for Civil Rights, and his was one of the first businesses that had an African American to work in his store as a salesman. At the same time, a Ku Klux Klansman once invited him to a meeting.

Melvin's immediate family remained the most important thing to him in life.