Crown, Henry

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CROWN, HENRY (Henry Krinsky ; 1896–1990), U.S. business executive. Crown was born and raised in Chicago, the son of Latvian immigrants. He left school at the age of 15 and went to work. After he was fired from his $4 a week job as a shipping clerk for dispatching a load of sand instead of gravel, he and his brothers, Sol and Irving, founded a materials supply firm. Through hard work and sound business practices, they steadily built up their company. Crown became the treasurer (1916), then the president (1921), and then chairman of the board (1941) of the multimillion-dollar Material Service Corporation in Chicago, which had become the largest materials firm in the world. During World War ii Crown served as a colonel in the Corps of Engineers. The Crowns' corporation operated its own quarries, mines, lime and cement plants, and gravel and sand pits. Its fleet of tugboats traveled across Chicago's waterways, and the company's army of cement trucks churned through the streets on a daily basis. In 1959 the company merged into the General Dynamics Corporation, of which Crown served as director. He was also a director of several large firms, including Chicago Rock Island & Pacific Railroad, Hilton Hotels International, and was president and owner of the Empire State Building.

He diversified his business interests to include defense contracting, railroads, mining, farming, recreation, and trucking. With his disciplined risk-taking and financial acumen, he maximized on these investments to create Henry Crown and Company, one of the leading private investment groups in the U.S.

Crown served as director of the Chicago Jewish Welfare Fund and was a member of the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans.

The Crown family owned and managed operating companies and real estate investments. It also maintained significant investments in a broad range of publicly traded corporations, with extensive board of directors representation that includes General Dynamics, Hilton Hotels, Bank One, The Maytag Corporation, Alltel, and Sara Lee.

The Crown family established a worldwide reputation for philanthropy, donating funds to support academic and research programs. Some of the places and projects that bear Henry Crown's legacy include Henry Crown Field House on the University of Chicago campus; the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion /Norris Aquatic Center at Northwestern University; the Henry Crown Space Center Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago; the Aspen Institute's Henry Crown Fellowship Program, which seeks to develop the next generation of corporate and civic-minded leaders; the Henry Crown Symphony Hall and the Rebecca Crown Auditorium at the Jerusalem Theater; and the Henry Crown Institute of Business Research in Israel, under the auspices of Tel Aviv University's Faculty of Management, which aims to support research pertaining to business administration and management, with an emphasis on Israeli economy and society.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]