Arnold Panitch was born in Detroit Michigan to Florence & Irving Panitch, lived a life full of love and learning, and passed away peacefully at home in Portland due to complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend. He loved sharing jokes and laughs with friends from all around the world. He first developed a passion for travel as a young man, traveling with his family on annual summer road trips, taking his first airplane ride in 1963 while on a study trip to Oxford University.
Proud of his Detroit roots, he attended Cass Technical High School to study printing. After graduating, he attended Western Michigan University and Wayne State University, graduating with a Master of Social Work degree. He was drawn to the field during the civil rights movement and attended or led many events as a community organizer, including marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in protest of racial segregation. After serving as a Regional Director for the VISTA Volunteers programs, he went on to become a professor at the University of Illinois and Boise State University. His sense of curiosity and love of teaching helped him thrive in this career. His academic endeavors included training foster parents and teaching classes to a wide range of students, including inmates at the Idaho State Penitentiary. He also pursued Canadian Studies, Immigration Studies, public housing reform and establishment of Idaho’s Human Rights Day Holiday.
In 1978, he and his wife, Barbara King, founded the Boise Tour Train and the Spokane Tour Train in 1980. After the sale of the business in 1984, he continued to happily drive the Boise train for many more years, enjoying teaching passengers about the architectural history of Boise and telling plenty of jokes. He was also recognized by the Idaho Statesman as a “Distinguished Citizen” for his community contributions. He continued his entrepreneurial journey as the owner/operator of Boise’s Broadway Laundry and was passionate about supporting other people’s dreams and goals.
Arnie was a leader in every community in which he resided, helping keep neighborhoods clean and welcoming to all. He enjoyed serving as the moderator for the Humanists of Greater Portland, served on the board of Community Partners for Affordable Housing, and the Food Front local grocery cooperative. He was passionate about public transit and was a member of Tri-Met committees, particularly focusing on accessible transportation for people with disabilities. He also served as a volunteer host at Travel Portland’s Visitors Center. He continued acting on his passion for sociology by developing and leading walking tours in Portland’s Lair Hill neighborhood, promoting awareness of the traditionally Italian and Jewish area.
He held a lifelong love of listening to live music performances. From seeing Miles Davis at Detroit’s Minor Key club in the 1950s, to modern day Portland area Jazz jams, to classical concert bands at outdoor band shells, to klezmer music performances, to the Portland Youth Philharmonic concerts , his taste was ever evolving.
He had a passion for learning and held many memberships with organizations that included the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Society for American Baseball Research, the American Theatre Organ Society and the Art Deco Society.
Traveling and learning about other cultures led him to countless adventures. He saw Major League Baseball games in 45 stadiums, traveled to all 50 states and over 70 countries across the world. He treasured his time with his family, traveling, skiing, playing games and discussing current events.
He is survived by his beloved wife Barbara, ex-wife Zeda, brother Philmore, sons Joel (Marci), Jason, and Adam (Jennifer), and grandchildren Sydney and Augustus.