Longtime downtown Columbia business leader Abraham Moses “Mick” Lourie has died at the age of 90, his family announced Friday.
He passed away peacefully in Atlanta, of natural causes, the family said in a statement.
For many years, Lourie was chief executive at Lourie’s department store, an iconic Columbia men’s clothier headquartered at 1601 Main St., just blocks from the state Capitol.
Lourie’s furnished clothes for powerful politicians, high ranking executives and people who just liked fine mainstream clothing without New York prices. The shop’s closing in 2008 was considered the end of an era.
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“He was Uncle Mick not only to his nieces and nephews who adored him, but all my friends, all the customers, all the employees,” said Lourie’s nephew, state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland. “To the world he was also called Uncle Mick because he was like family to all who knew and loved him.”
“You never saw him in a bad mood,” the retiring state senator said.
Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin said Friday, “Lourie’s weathered every phase of downtown Columbia’s history. From a bustling downtown, through depression and recession, serving as an anchor of our resurgence.
“Mr. Lourie’s service in making our city what it is, through his iconic family business, will never be forgotten,” Benjamin said.
Mick Lourie, the third of six children, and his siblings grew up in St. George in Dorchester County, where the first Lourie’s department store opened in 1912. All six children worked in the family business.
The children of that generation of Louries were taught basic truths, recalled Joel Lourie: what it meant to be Jewish and understand and practice the faith; what it meant to be a good student and have a quality education; and what it meant to work hard.
They also were taught to respect people from all walks of life, and all were student and academic leaders in their high school, he said.
Around 1948, the family opened a department story in downtown Columbia, where the business thrived and expanded to other sites. It was not uncommon for generations of Columbia families to shop at Lourie’s. The primary downtown store closed in 2008.
At one time, there were Lourie stores at Columbia Mall, Columbiana Centre and Dutch Square mall. More than 100 people worked at the stores.
“But the younger generation went into other occupations, so there was no one to run Lourie’s,” Mick Lourie said in a 2009 interview “It was time.”
Today, the first floor and basement of the old three-story Lourie’s store at the intersection of Main and Taylor streets is considered prime downtown real estate.
It is occupied by Mast General Store, a country store and outdoor clothing outfitter, whose opening in 2011 helped revitalize Main Street and lead to a resurgence in business and social activities recent years.
Over the course of his Columbia career, Mick Lourie co-owned and managed Lourie’s with his brother, Sol. He served as a board director of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce and active in the United Way and the Columbia Rotary.
Lourie is survived by his wife of 64 years, Nancy, four children and numerous grandchildren.
The family will receive friends from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Sunday at Beth Shalom Synagogue, 5827 N. Trenholm Road. A funeral service will be held at the synagogue at 11 a.m., following by interment at The Hebrew Benevolent Society Cemetery at 1732 Hampton St.