October 23, 1922 – June 10, 2018
Born in Freeport, New York on October 23, 1922 to Jewish parents of Albert Gollender, a naturalized citizen originally from Finland and Rae Kleinman originally from England. Mort was one of three children. He had an identical twin, his brother Warren whom was lost in the opening days of combat in Europe in World War II. He also had a younger sister, Racheal whom died around age 8 from a congenital heart defect. Mort and Warren attended grade school and high school in Freeport. They would often fish off the dock of Freeport, catching mostly cod, using nothing but cheap string, bamboo poles and shiny Wrigley’s gum wrappers for bait. In the summer, the boys would steal away to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx and watch their favorite sluggers, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio for less than 50 cents a game. Mort’s father Albert was a personal dignitary coachman for the Union Pacific Railway and one of his jobs was to make sure that visiting senators, congressmen, and people of political influence were well attended to on their trips to and from New York. He traveled the country and determined that his boys’ lives would be greatly furthered by attending a small west coast school founded by U.S. senator and former California governor, Leland Stanford, an railroad tycoon. Both Mort and Warren entered Stanford University in the Fall of 1941 as freshmen, just months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Both young men had already joined the school’s ROTC program. Mort enlisted the service in November 1942 and did his boot camp training in Camp Pendleton outside of San Diego. He reported for active duty in April 1943 and was sent overseas to fight with the 387th Infantry Regiment as a combat infantrymen and mortar men. His division routed the Nazis from Czechoslovakia (Now known as the Czech Republic) to help them gain back their independence. I don’t know if my dad ever shot a German soldier dead, as he never elaborated or boasted, but he did often tell a story that he shot a German soldier “right in the ass” for giving his companymen the “bird” from across the road they were both traveling on. After the surrender of Germany, Mort served for several months in the disarmament of Japan before returning stateside in March of 1946. He continued to serve his country as a US Air Force Reservist until the end of 1949. After the war, Mort returned to Stanford and pursued a Bachelor’s of Science with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Graduating in 1949. During the summer months right after the war he worked on a retreat farm of one of his Stanford professors in Palo Alto along with other young Stanford students, including future US Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield. One of their favorite topics was comparative religion. They learned with open eager minds and studied Christianity, the principles of Buddhism, teachings from the book of Tao, and Book of Koran, Hinduism along with modern Judaism. He often remarked how at peace he was with this group of religious discussioners. Although we celebrated Christmas day in our house when I was a kid, I often think that Mort’s “religion” was an amalgam of what he learned those few summers after WWII, on the Stanford farm. After receiving his BS in 1949, Mort worked for a few years for Fairchild Engine and Airplane Corporation while he obtained a Master’s Degree in Industrial Engineering at Columbia University in 1953. After his new degree he went to work for a few years for Dalmo Victor Company as an Industrial Engineer and then for a few years for Bank of America as a Methods Analyst. His interests began changing in the late 1950’s and he became incredibly interested in how the human brain worked and processed information and began working as a research assistant at the Mental Health Institute in Ann Arbor Michigan while he pursued a Master’s of Arts degree in Psychology at University of Michigan. (1960) Later as his new interests grew he enrolled in Indiana University to pursue a PhD degree in Laboratory Psychology and Neurophysiology which was awarded in 1965. The fall of 1965 he moved back to Palo Alto California and did some post-doctorate teaching and research at Stanford University looking at how stereoscopic vision developed in cats and primates. At some point during the winter of 1965, after 10,000 years of higher education, Mort decided to go have a drink in a local Palo Alto Cocktail Bar and met a diminutive 5-2,” 100 pound voracious reader named Ginny, mother of two, a 12 year-old pigheaded girl named Theresa and a seven-year old fidgety hyperactive boy named Paul, that liked setting things on fire. The attraction must have been off the scale because the “baggage” obviously in today’s world, would have scared off 100% of today’s “modern male”. In a very short time of romance Mort & Ginny tied the knot on August 13th 1966 and spent a cozy honeymoon in Carmel. Mort received an offer to teach at Pacific University and continue to do research so up went the California family of four to the rainiest place on earth, where the chance of seeing Halley’s comet was better than seeing a week of California blue sky. Well,.. at least the boy wouldn’t be able to start as many fires with so much rain. One problem solved. Mort taught at Pacific University and continued to do research on how brains process visual information during the years of 1967-1973. Ginny enrolled at Pacific University and received her BA in 1973, and later took advanced courses at Portland State University for her master’s degree. As you can imagine family education was of paramount importance to the genius scientist. In 1974 Mort left Pacific University and began an independent Federally Funded Research Center in Forest Grove for about three years again studying stereoscopic vision in cats. At the end of his research grant he decided of course to go back to school and obtain his optometric doctorate degree in Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated in 1978 with his degree, (which was two years after I had graduated out of high school). Although he never used his O.D. degree he was the proud owner of five distinctly advanced educational degrees, two of them doctorate degrees.
- Funeral Service Monday, July 30, 2018
- Committal Service with Honors Monday, July 30, 2018