MARKS–James E. James E. Marks, 97, real estate investor and lifelong Philadelphian, died of neuroendocrine cancer on June 20, in Bryn Mawr, PA. Jim was born to Zachary Marks, an accountant, and Esther Brown Marks, a teacher. At 17, Jim became the first in his family to attend college, commuting to Drexel University by trolley car. Prohibited from studying electrical engineering due to an alleged lack of jobs for Jews in the field, he majored in mechanical engineering. He served in Japan as an NCO in the US Navy during WWII, assisting with applications of newly developed radar technology. His training at the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC was so classified that his team had to lock their textbooks in a safe. In 1946, Jim returned to Drexel, graduated the following year, and accepted a job at an accounting firm while attending Drexel’s College of Business at night. He earned his MBA in 1949. In 1960, having developed housing communities with the WA Clarke Mortgage Company for more than ten years, Jim started Marks & Co., Inc. – the real estate development and management business that he led until his death. It’s now headed by his son, James D. Marks. Jim attributed much of his success to Drexel. He served on the board of trustees from 1986 to 1995, and the university opened the James E. Marks Intercultural Center in 2011, a space for cultivating community and collaboration among diverse groups. Jim will be remembered as strategic, purposeful, contemplative, devoted to music, education, and self-improvement. An engineer at heart, he applied math to everything from tennis to jazz. Even into his 90s, Jim took jazz piano lessons; he revered the complexity of the genre, studying music theory and diving deep into the mathematics of chord progressions and variations. Jim’s greatest talent, however, was his ability to adapt – to the real estate market, to technological advances, to changing social mores. Never forgetting his firsthand experiences with prejudice, he was always willing to unpack his preconceptions and take a second look. His legacy, therefore, will not only be the maroon-and-white Marks & Co. signs that dot Philadelphia’s Main Line, but also the curiosity and open mindedness that his family will carry forever. Jim was predeceased by his parents; his first wife, Merle Kemp Marks; and his second wife, Peggy Jones Marks. He is survived by his son, James D. Marks (Mark R. Scott), and his grandchildren, Ann Scott Marks and Peter Scott Marks. A memorial service will be announced. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to The Constellation Project, 142 West 57th Street, Floor 11, New York, NY 10019, theconstellationproject.org
Published by New York Times on Jun. 26, 2022.