Rothschild, Walter N.
ROTHSCHILD, WALTER N.
ROTHSCHILD, WALTER N. (1892–1960), U.S. department-store executive. Rothschild was born in New York City. He began working with his grandfather Abraham *Abraham, a founder of the Brooklyn department store Abraham and Straus. After serving in the Naval Reserve during World War i, he was made general manager of the department store (1925), and under his leadership the store expanded into one of the largest in sales in the city. In 1929 the store came under the holding company Federated Department Stores, Inc., along with *Lazarus of Columbus, Ohio, and Filene's of Boston. Remaining active in the management of Federated and of Abraham and Straus, Rothschild became president of that store in 1937, then chairman (1955), and at his death he was also chairman of Federated Department Stores.
During World War ii, Rothschild served as chairman of the Army-Navy Commission of the National Jewish Welfare Board, overseeing activities in England for a time; he was also on the executive commission of the United Service Organization. He served as trustee of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, on the executive commission of the American Jewish Committee, and as trustee for several other organizations.
His son walter n. rothschild jr. (1920–2003) graduated from Harvard in 1942 with a B.A. before enlisting in the U.S. Army in World War ii. He served as an army officer in Europe in 1942–46. He joined Abraham and Straus in 1950 and rose to be president (1963–69); in the year he stepped down from that position to pursue a civic career, the store was accounted the third largest in New York City, with annual sales estimated at $250 million. During his presidency at A&S, Rothschild was active as liaison agent between the store and the Brooklyn community, in work for a cleaner urban environment, and in improving the quality of merchandise provided by manufacturers.
He served as trustee of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and on several hospital boards, and was a member of the Second Regional Planning Commission. In 1970 he was appointed New York chairman of the Urban Coalition, the national agency devoted to improving urban life (1970–73). He then served as chairman of the National Urban Coalition (1973–77). Rothschild's longstanding interest in providing vocational opportunities for minorities in America was instrumental in the creation of the Ventures Scholars Program, a national nonprofit program designed to promote access to higher learning for young adults interested in pursuing math- and science-based careers.