The AJC presented the 2019 Netzach Award to the families of Robert Lefton and his brother, the late Morris Lefton, in recognition of their passionate leadership and commitment to the Jewish community. The award dinner, which brought together family, friends, and colleagues from around the country, was a heartwarming celebration of the entire family’s commitment to the Jewish ideals of Tzedakah and Tikkun Olam — giving back to the community and working together to build a brighter future for all.
These values were instilled early in both Lefton brothers, whose inspirational life journeys made the evening possible. Abandoned by their father at a young age, both Bob and Morris spent much of their childhood in the St. Louis Jewish Children’s Home. While their mother would visit weekly, she was unable to support both children as a single mother in the 1930s and 40s. Despite the hardships they faced, the Lefton family only grew closer, and both brothers drew on their experiences of adversity to drive their ambitions.
Bob, always the academic, secured a scholarship to attend Washington University in St. Louis. After discovering a love of organizational psychology, he went on to obtain a doctorate degree and co-found Psychological Associates with Dr. Vic Buzzotta. Over the course of his six decades in business he has served as counsel and confidant to numerous Fortune 500 executives, and many regard him as a true pioneer in the field of organizational development.
His late brother, Morris, followed his own path. After dropping out of high school Morris found work through a relative in the scrap metal industry. The work suited him, and before long Morris had worked his way up to leadership roles, eventually going on to found his own company, Metal Exchange Corporation. He turned a modestly successful scrap metal yard into a business that employs over 750 people today. His son, Mike Lefton, carries on his legacy as Chairman & CEO.
Despite their differences, the two Lefton brothers remained extremely close their entire lives. They lived in the same neighborhoods and spoke regularly right up until Morris’ death in 2011.
The spirit of love and community that both Bob and Morris Lefton have cultivated throughout their lives and their careers was clearly evident in the room that night. Over the course of several moving speeches, presented by distinguished guests such as Centene Chairman and CEO Michael Neidorf, former Bloomingdale’s Chairman and CEO Michael Gould, and Edwin Pepper Interiors’ Lenore Pepper, it became increasingly evident that the Leftons left their mark on the hearts, minds, and boardrooms of many.