This story is part of an ongoing Miami Herald series chronicling the lives of South Florida COVID-19 victims.
This past February at the Bagel Time Cafe in Miami Beach, Seymour Schreck spent his 86th birthday making sure everyone in attendance was seated and enjoying the food.
Throughout his life, he was more concerned about others’ needs than his own, said friends and family. Despite an arduous two-year battle with cancer, he almost never complained.
Born in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1934, he moved to Miami with his parents in the 1950s. He worked for years as an operations manager and partner at his uncle’s business, Spolter Electrical Supplies, which helped build hotels in South Beach.
He died of COVID-19 on April 7.
As an only child, he dedicated his life to caring for his parents, especially his mother, Beverly, who passed in 2006, 31 years after his father, Nathan.
“The essence of his life was that he lived for his mother,” said his close family friend, Aryeh Ciment, citing an example that even in his 60s, Schreck would be home by curfew to not worry her.
He never married or had children, but others’ kids loved him. Everywhere he went, whether it was to doctor’s visits or to visit friends, he never arrived empty-handed — bringing toys if he knew that someone had children.
At home, he had a trunk full of collectible sports memorabilia like signed baseballs that he would give away. He even surprised some kids by buying game tickets.
“He would take them to the stadium,” said his cousin, Jerry Schreck. “Suddenly they’d find themselves sitting right where the players could touch you.”
He had a passion for sports and knew just about everything there was to know about basketball, football and baseball.
“You can say to him, ‘Who played on May 14, 1945?’ and he could tell you in detail and even pull out a film to show you the actual game,” his cousin, Suri Spolter, said.
He watched a lot of games and often socialized with players. He even had a photo taken with longtime Dolphins coach Don Shula out on the field.
Schreck was charitable, even to strangers. Spolter said that he once read in the newspaper about a young father being killed, found the family’s address and sent the mother a check.
“If someone was struggling with school expenses and just mentioned it to him, they would receive a check in the mail days later,” Spolter said. “He helped people buy houses and pay for weddings. He really didn’t spend on himself.”
He donated to numerous organizations, including U.S. war veteran foundations and hospitals both here and in Israel, particularly one in Afula.
He was a founder and member of congregation Beth Tefilah, an early Jewish orthodox group in South Florida, and was also a member of the synagogue at the assisted living facility Douglas Gardens, where he lived for the last two years.
Bianca Marcof, a Florida International University journalism student, wrote this story for the Miami Herald.