Memorial celebration replaces funeral for Morty Staub

Mortimer Staub liked parties. He liked attending them, he liked planning them, he liked inviting people to them.

So it’s fitting that the 85-year-old lifelong San Franciscan will be remembered Sunday at a “Celebration of Life” instead of at a funeral.

“We’re not into the big, sad displays,” said his daughter, Lynn Bradescu. Even though Staub’s health began to decline last year, “he just went to an 80th birthday party for friend on Dec. 8. He never missed a party.”

He died Dec. 29 in his San Francisco home.

Morty, as he was known to his friends, enjoyed the finer things in life. He had all his suits custom-made. He loved good shoes. When he golfed, he dressed in coordinated knickers, socks and shoes.

He bought a new Lincoln or Cadillac every two years. He enjoyed picking up the check when out with a group of friends.

“He was very generous, always doing everything for his buddies,” Bradescu said. “He called them his ‘cronies.'”

Staub grew up in San Francisco’s Excelsior district, on Flood Avenue. He was one of five siblings. His grandfather, Aaron, was a rabbi and immigrated to New York in the late 1800s. His parents spoke Yiddish and raised their children as vegetarians. Morty spoke some Yiddish, too.

“My father used to say, ‘There are three kinds of Jews: Orthodox, Reform and California.’ We were the California kind,” Bradescu said.

Staub’s father Max used to press vinyl records in his basement, a hobby that Morty often helped with. The pair made audio recordings of family gatherings, pressed them and sent them to relatives in New York, where most of the Staubs lived.

Staub worked with Max at their hat manufacturing company, Eagle Headwear. In 1941, he and his older brother Stanley joined the Navy. His brother was killed in action in the Pacific. Staub’s sister Joyce, 73, remembers Morty returning to the states with a small gift for everyone in the family.

Soon after, he married Frances Everett. They moved to Mill Valley and had two children. He found a job as a salesman with the Military Post Exchange, selling Panasonic electronics and Bell helicopters.

In the early ’60s, Staub served as the president of B’nai B’rith, Marin chapter. He also spent much of his time in North Beach. He loved the nightlife, the food and the jazz music.

“He was always down there in North Beach, hobnobbing with club owners,” Bradescu said. “He knew everyone, all the old-timers from the golden era of the neighborhood.

“He never met a stranger,” his daughter joked.

After he retired, he became a part-owner of Capp’s Corner in North Beach, then in 1984 opened up his own night club, Morty’s, on the corner of Kearny and Broadway streets.

He liked being the center of attention and the life of the party, said his son, Martin Staub. Both his children worked with him at Morty’s for the club’s decade-long business. They served family-style Italian food. After a group of Harley bikers started to frequent his club, Morty dedicated one night a month to their group.

“He was always an optimist,” Bradescu remembered. “He was very positive, good natured, always looking for the golden ring.”

Staub is survived by his daughter Lynn Bradescu of San Rafael; son Martin Staub and Debra of Kentfield; and a granddaughter and great-grandson.

In lieu of flowers, remembrances to Hospice by the Bay are welcome. The family will host a “Celebration of Life” from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14 at the Panama Hotel, 4 Bayview St., San Rafael. Contact Lynn at lalynn3@comcast.net or (415) 515-4468.

Stacey Palevsky

Stacey Palevsky is a former J. staff writer.