Notable People

Belle and Martin Marks

10229 Lake Shore Boulevard
Martin Marks
Martin Marks

Martin A. Marks, businessman and community leader, was born on February 6, 1853, in Madison, Wisconsin, the son of Aaron and Sarah Marks. He attended public school in Madison and quit at age thirteen to work in his father’s dry-goods store.

As a young man, Martin became active in B’nai B’rith. He was appointed to the board of trustees of the Jewish Orphan Home in 1885. While traveling to Cleveland on business, Marks met Belle Hays, the daughter of Kaufman Hays. The two subsequently married on October 28, 1885. Belle Hays was born on June 25, 1862. Just over a year later, the couple moved to Cleveland.

Marks purchased an interest in Klein & Lehman, a wholesale clothing firm. The name was changed to Klein, Marks & Co.

In 1890, he worked for Northwest Life Insurance Company and a year later became northern Ohio manager for Equitable Life Assurance Company of New York, remaining there 14 years.

In 1902, Marks became a Cleveland Worsted Mill Company director, a firm run by his father-in-law. And in 1906, he became secretary-treasurer, a position he held until his death. The company had over 700 looms in operation.

He was on the board of directors of First National Bank and a Guardian Savings and Trust Company’s Executive Committee member.

Marks was a lifelong philanthropist and civic organizer. When Rabbi Gries suggested creating the Educational League to ensure the possibility of higher education for orphans, Marks became the first president of the B’nai B'rith- sponsored organization. As a leader in the local B’nai B’rith, he was active in raising funds for the Consumptive Hospital in Denver, founded in 1899.

Marks was one of eight men who met in 1903 to establish the Federation of Jewish Charities and was one of three people appointed to an FJC committee to review and report on all immigration bills proposed in Congress.

Martin was a founder in 1913 of the Federation for Charity & Philanthropy, a charitable organization in the Cleveland community. Marks was one of the Chamber of Commerce's founders, Visiting Nurse Association, Humane Society, The Cleveland Society of the Blind, Anti Tuberculosis League, and National Jewish Corporation for Charities.

Belle was associated with the Cleveland Jewish Orphan Asylum and the Cleveland/Denver Hospital for consumptives (tuberculosis).

Martin died on August 31, 1916, and Belle died on November 8, 1932. Both were buried in Mayfield Cemetery. They were survived by daughters Florence Moss and Ethel Kingsbacher.