Victor Elmaleh died Monday in New York. A major benefactor for the game of squash, Elmaleh won the national doubles title with Victor Niederhoffer in 1968 at the remarkable age of forty-nine—still the record for the oldest man to win an open national title. He was ten days shy of his ninety-sixth birthday.
A brilliant left-waller playing at the old City Athletic Club and the Heights Casino in Brooklyn, Elmaleh took doubles titles in more than a dozen other tournaments around the country. On the singles court, he was also accomplished and played in the inaugural U.S. Open in 1954. Elmaleh was a great athlete: he also won a U.S. national handball doubles title.
He was equally known for his generosity off the court as a major benefactor for the game of squash. He funded the Elmaleh Project, enabling US Squash to hire a full-time staffer to oversee the game. He helped build two courts, one in Southampton, Long Island, and the other a revolutionary four-glass-wall court in Toronto.
Born in Morocco, Elmaleh emigrated to the U.S. in 1925 and graduated from the University of Virginia in 1942. He worked as an architect, commodities importer (including, most famously, Volkswagen cars) and commercial real estate. He was a watercolorist and pianist and civic leader. In 2013 US Squash awarded him the President’s Cup and, in the current issue of Squash Magazine, Elmaleh is ranked third amongst the nation’s top fifty most intriguing, interesting and influential people in squash in 2014.
A private funeral will be followed by a memorial service early next year.