Stephen E. Kantor JD ’74
Stephen Edward Kantor JD ’74 passed away November 14, 2021, after complications associated with cancer. He was 72.
Steve was born May 22, 1949, in Portland to Albert and Rita Kantor. He grew up in the Eastmoreland neighborhood, along with his older sisters Anita and Laura. The family moved west of the Willamette when Steve was 12, and he graduated from Sunset High School. While attending the University of Oregon, he met another Portland native, student Elaine Londer, who became the love of his life. They married at Congregation Beth Israel in Portland following graduation.
Steve immediately began law school, and the earned his CPA designation while working in public accounting. He passed the Oregon State Bar Exam in 1977 and joined the law firm that was then called Samuels Samuels and Yoelin. A few name changes later, the firm became Samuels Yoelin Kantor (SYK). Steve was made partner his third year at the firm, and stayed there through his entire career, playing an instrumental role in its growth and success.
Steve and Elaine welcomed their first daughter, Allison, in 1978, and their second, Lindsay, in 1982. They raised their girls in Southwest Portland, where their home was filled with Steve’s loud and beautiful singing voice, his delicious cooking, and loads of laughter. Much to Steve’s excitement, both of their daughters followed in their parents’ footsteps, also attending the University of Oregon.
In addition to being a dedicated counselor and advisor to his clients, Steve took great joy in mentoring the younger attorneys that joined SYK over the years. He served on the boards of the Estate Planning and Administration section of the Oregon State Bar and OSB Joint CPA Committee. Steve was a member of several OSB standing committees, as well as the recipient of an OSB President’s Award and an OSCPA Speaker of the Year Award. He was designated by his peers as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” and as a “Lawyer of the Year” in taxation. Steve was also a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Council.
Steve was incredibly dedicated to the people of his community. One of his proudest accomplishments was being a founding member and past president of the Oregon Jewish Community Foundation. Steve was past president of Jewish Family & Child Service and served as president of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington, earning its Hall of Fame Award. He served on the board of trustees for B’nai B’rith Men’s Camp Association, the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland, Mittleman Jewish Community Center, the Nature Conservancy, and Play It Forward. Steve also served on committees for Congregation Beth Israel, Robison Jewish Home, the University of Oregon Foundation, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute.
Steve lived life with fierce enthusiasm, somehow never slowing down but also stopping to smell the roses. He found particular joy on the golf course with his friends, traveling the world with Elaine and his siblings, and cooking a meal for anyone who crossed his path. But nothing quite made him smile as much as spending time with his family in Manzanita and the sound of his grandchildren’s laughter. Everyone who met Steve knows that he could always make you laugh. Steve leaves a legacy that will never be forgotten. He was beloved by his colleagues, many dear friends, and his adoring family.
Steve is survived by his wife of almost 50 years, Elaine; children Ali and Lindsay; grandchildren Eddie, Abby, and Abel; sisters Anita and Laura; stepbrother Mike; aunt Jackie; many cousins, nieces, and nephews; and countless friends that he considered family.
Was named an Oregon Jewish Community Foundation’s Legacy Society Honoree, together with his wife, Elaine Kantor. The award recognizes the couple’s longstanding dedication to and support of Portland’s Jewish community and OJCF. Kantor is a past president and one of the founding members of the organization, as well as an inaugural member of the foundation’s professional advisors group.