Scholarship Honors Emigrant Experience

Doris Edelman aboard the S.S. Rotterdam United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Provenance: Alan Edelman

Family with strong UMKC ties furthers future success

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, JD ’75, says of he and his brothers Ron, JD ’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 German in 1938 following Kristallnacht, or “the night of the broken glass,” in which paramilitary

Doris Edelman at the Statue of Liberty
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Provenance: Alan Edelman

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’s 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 emigration and Brand and Puritz, a Kansas City Garment District manufacturer, offered his grandfather a job.

Eventually, Doris Edelman enrolled in Kansas City University and earned degrees in Spanish and economics in 1947. Her husband, William, earned his psychology degree in 1954 and went on to become a physician.

“My mother was a very bright woman,” Edelman says. “After she graduated, 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 film maker,” Edelman says. “She did not think that was very serious. She said, ‘Mark, you can always be a film maker if you go to law school, but you can’t be a lawyer if go to film school.’

I didn’t say, ‘I don’t want to be a lawyer.’ I went to law school at UMKC.”

While Edelman never practiced law, he considers his connection to the university significant.

“My parents took advantage of all the things an urban campus like UMKC can provide to the city,” he says. “My love of the theatre grew from my experiences of going to KC Rep with my mother.

Mark, Alan and Ron Edelman, photo Laurel Austin

Edelman founded the Theater League, Inc., a not-for-profit community-based performing arts organization that presented the best of Broadway to Kansas City audiences for forty-two years.

His brothers, Alan and Ron also attended UMKC. The family will be recognized with the Legacy Award of the 2020 Alumni Association Awards. Their deep and broad connection to the university contributed to honoring Doris Edelman with a scholarship.

“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,” Edelman says.  “I think she’d be proud. She was proud of us and I think she’d be proud of our association with the university.”