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Julius Rosenwald

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Julius Rosenwald
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Julius Rosenwald

Julius Rosenwald (born August 12 1862 in Springfield, Illinois - 1932) was a U.S. merchant and philanthropist.

In 1885, Rosenwald teamed up with a cousin, Julius Weil, to manufacture men's clothing. Coincidentally, one of the company's clients was Richard Sears, who ordered men's clothing for sale in his catalogs.

In 1890, Julius married Augusta Nusbaum, with whom he had five children. His son Lessing served as chairman of Sears upon his father's death in 1932 until 1939.

In 1895, Rosenwald became a partner in Sears, Roebuck and Co. when Richard Sears offered Rosenwald's brother-in-law, Aaron Nusbaum, an interest in the company. In 1896, he became a vice president of company.

From the moment he joined Sears, Roebuck and Co., Rosenwald's abilities meshed amazingly well with those of Richard Sears. He brought to company a rational management philosophy. From 1895 to 1907, annual sales skyrocketed from $750,000 to $50 million. In 1908, Rosenwald was named president when Richard Sears resigned. Rosenwald continued to serve as president until 1924, when he became chairman of the board, a position he held until his death in 1932.

After World War I, Sears was in dire financial shape and Rosenwald brought Sears back from the brink of bankruptcy by pledging some $21 million of his personal fortune, in cash, stock and other assets to rescue the company. By 1922, Sears had regained financial stability.

After Rosenwald stepped down as Sears president in 1924, he devoted most of his time to philanthropy. Over the course of his life, he donated millions of dollars to public schools, colleges and universities, museums, Jewish charities and black institutions.

Of all his philanthropic efforts, Rosenwald was most famous for the more than 5,000 "Rosenwald schools" he established throughout the South for poor, rural black youth, and the 4,000 libraries he added to existing schools.

The network of new public schools subsequently employed more than 14,000 teachers. In 1927, Rosenwald received a special gold medal from the William E. Harmon Awards for Distinguished Achievement in Race Relations for his contributions to the education of black youth.

Rosenwald embodied the principles of modern, responsible management and corporate citizenship. He provided the means and the model for Sears to grow as a company.

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