Henry “Hank” Lefkowitz, a Cleveland area basketball star who played in the first year of the NBA, died April 21 at age 83.
Mr. Lefkowitz’s career began in Cleveland Heights High School, where he led the 1941 team to a Lake Erie League championship and earned All Lake Erie League honors. The star of the basketball team at Western Reserve University, he averaged 21 points per game in his final season and scored 503 points during his last two years of college. He was co-captain of the team in 1946-47 and was named All Big Four and All Mid-American Conference. He was inducted into the Case Western Reserve Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990.
Upon graduation, Mr. Lefkowitz played the first year of the NBA, the 1947 season, for the Cleveland Rebels. After being traded to the Baltimore Bullets, he retired from basketball and embarked on a career in real estate. As a builder, developer, and real estate agent, Mr. Lefkowitz owned Dover Construction in Cleveland and Chicago, and he worked for Forest City Enterprises, Adler Braun Realty, Cragin Lang Inc., and various personal real estate partnerships.
Enlisted in the Army Air Corps, Mr. Lefkowitz flew 37 missions as a navigator over Southern Germany and Austria on the B-24 Liberator during WW II. Rising to the rank of lieutenant, he was awarded two battle stars, an Air Medal with Oak Clusters, and a Presidential Unit Citation Medal.
Mr. Lefkowitz was predeceased by his wife of 48 years, Joan. He is survived by sons Andrew and Jim; daughter Nancy Shamie; and eight grandchildren.