Klutznick, Philip Morris
Klutznick, Philip Morris
KLUTZNICK, PHILIP MORRIS
KLUTZNICK, PHILIP MORRIS (1907–1999), U.S. community planner, diplomat, and communal leader. Klutznick was born in Kansas City, Missouri. While in high school, he was vice president of the local ymca's Hi-Y Boys Club; but, as a Jew, he was not permitted to become president. This prompted him to establish the second chapter of the Aleph Zadik Aleph (aza) youth branch of B'nai B'rith.
Klutznick received his law degree from Creighton University law school in Omaha, Nebraska. He was admitted to the bar (1930) and, as assistant corporation counsel for the city of Omaha, brought a federal housing development to that city. His success as a community planner in the posts of special assistant on housing to the U.S. attorney general (1935–36) and general counsel for the Omaha Housing Authority, which he was instrumental in creating (1938–41), led to his appointment as federal housing commissioner (1944–46) by presidents Roosevelt and Truman. He also served as assistant administrator of the National Housing Agency. Among his many innovative actions, he arranged for hundreds of houses to be dismantled in some parts of the country and shipped to other parts to be rebuilt for defense factory workers who needed them.
As board chairman of American Community Builders, Inc., Klutznick developed the model middle-income community of 30,000 of Park Forest (1947). A satellite city located 27 miles out of Chicago, it was designed for returning war veterans. Klutznick served as board chairman and director of banking, insurance, and utilities corporations, and was senior partner of Klutznick Enterprises. He extended his pioneering efforts in community development to Israel as co-founder of the modern seaport of *Ashdod. He was appointed to the U.S. delegation to the United Nations in 1957 by President Eisenhower. In 1961–63 he served as ambassador to the United Nations Economic and Social Council.
Klutznick was one of the foremost figures in postwar American Jewish life. He was international president of B'nai B'rith (1953–59), general chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, president of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, vice president of the Jewish Welfare Board, a board member of the *Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, and helped to establish the *Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. In 1956 he went to Morocco to secure the release of 8,500 Moroccan Jews. In these capacities he spoke out against religious and cultural genocide and for the observance of human and civil rights. In his No Easy Answers (1961), he was critical of disunity among Jewish religious groups.
In 1974 he undertook the development of the 74-story Water Tower Place complex in Chicago. In 1975, President Ford appointed him to serve on an advisory committee that facilitated resettlement of Vietnamese and Cambodians in the United States.
Klutznick received the 1976 Liberty Award of the United States and was elected president of the *World Jewish Congress in November 1977, in succession to Nahum *Goldmann. In November 1979 he was nominated as secretary of commerce by President Carter and received the unanimous approval of the U.S. Senate; at age 72, he became the oldest member of Carter's cabinet. He oversaw the 1980 U.S. Census and established the Office for Productivity, Technology, and Innovation. He served until the Carter administration ended in January 1981 and returned to Chicago.
In 1986, he and his wife established the Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at the College of Arts and Sciences at Chicago's Northwestern University. In the following year they established the Klutznick Endowed Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University.
The B'nai B'rith Klutznick National Museum is located in Washington, d.c. and Creighton University's law library also bears his name. Klutznick's Angles of Vision: A Memoir of My Lives (with S. Hyman) was published in 1991.
[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]
M. Berger, They Built Chicago: Entrepreneurs Who Shaped a Great City's Architecture (1992); M. Baer, Dealing in Futures: The Story of a Jewish Youth Movement (1983).