Carl H. Lindner, Jr. - Cincinnati Business Titan Passes Away at Age 92
CINCINNATI, Oct 18, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Carl Henry Lindner, Jr., innovative, self-made builder of businesses that employ thousands, generous philanthropist, loving husband, father and devout Christian, passed away yesterday, at the age of 92, from causes incident to age. He was surrounded by his wife, sons and other family members. At the time of his death, he was Chairman of the Board of American Financial Group, Inc., a major financial services company he founded in 1959. He was one of the most successful corporate financiers in the nation.
Mr. Lindner was born in Dayton, Ohio in 1919, and the family moved to Cincinnati in 1930 when he was 11 years old. He developed industrious habits and a devotion to his community at a young age. Mr. Lindner dropped out of school at age 15, at the bottom of the Depression, and began working countless hours a day, delivering milk door-to-door while attending high school classes at night. In 1940, he opened an ice cream shop with his father, brothers and sister. Working with his family, he transformed the milk delivery business into what is now known as United Dairy Farmers, originally a milk and dairy store which launched Mr. Lindner's career as a self-made businessman and entrepreneur.
Over the course of his distinguished business and investment career, Mr. Lindner held controlling interests in such notable organizations as Great American Insurance Group, General Cable Corporation, The Penn Central Corporation, Hanna-Barbera Productions, Kings Island Company, the former Taft Broadcasting Company, The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Cincinnati Reds, Chiquita Brands International Inc., and The Provident Bank. With all his diverse business ventures, he had a special interest for the insurance and banking industry. While aggressive and driven as a business leader, Mr. Lindner was by nature a soft-spoken, gracious, humble and caring man who embodied the Biblical principle "Love thy neighbor." His kindness, generosity and consideration for his employees, earned him their admiration, loyalty and affection. His legendary Christmas parties featured stars such as Frank Sinatra and included gifts to every employee.
Mr. Lindner contributed significantly to the economic and cultural lives of his fellow Cincinnatians. Besides creating thousands of Cincinnati-based jobs by headquartering his enterprises in the area, Mr. Lindner donated his time and business acumen to many Cincinnati educational, religious, cultural and civic organizations. He and his wife Edyth are members of the Kenwood Baptist Church. Mr. Lindner served on the Board of Advisors to the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration, on the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Fine Arts Museum, the Board of Overseers of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the Commercial Club of Cincinnati and the Citizens for a Better Cincinnati among many others. A public spirited citizen who loved Cincinnati and his hometown of Norwood, Ohio, he was a friend and confidant of numerous U.S. Presidents. He contributed to both parties but was a loyal supporter of conservatives and Republicans, both locally and nationally.
With a deep desire to express gratitude for his hometown, Mr. Lindner became a generous and devoted philanthropist, and his influence is evident all over Cincinnati as well as nationally. Together with his wife, Edyth, Mr. Lindner and their family have been major benefactors of Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy and the Otto Armleder Memorial Education Center. In 2006, Mr. Lindner helped to establish The Craig and Frances Lindner Center of HOPE, Cincinnati's premier mental health center. His financial support was instrumental in establishing the Carl H. Lindner Family Center for Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife at the Cincinnati Zoo, the Carl and Edyth Lindner Waterworks Park, as well as Lindner Park, a public recreational facility in Norwood, Ohio, the Carl and Edyth Lindner Ice Age Exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center, and the Carl Lindner Family Tennis Pavilion at Sawyer Point. He was a strong supporter of the ATP (now known as the Western & Southern Open). In addition, he made generous donations to establishments such as the Boy Scouts of America, National Underground Railroad and the World Trade Center Memorial.
Education was a cause dear to his heart because he did not finish high school. He liked to joke that his business success was due to the straight-A's he earned in his evening high school courses; he found great satisfaction in giving others the educational opportunities he had missed. Mr. Lindner often expressed his thoughts by handing out little white cards with sayings on them. One read: "I like to do my giving while I'm living so I'm knowing where it's going." He once defined money simply as "a medium of exchange that one must learn to use wisely."
Mr. Lindner received numerous awards and accolades in recognition of his philanthropy and community involvement. The University of Cincinnati recognized his significant contributions to the College of Business Administration by awarding Mr. Lindner the honorary degree Doctor of Commercial Science. In 1985 the University of Cincinnati again recognized Mr. Lindner with the dedication of Carl H. Lindner Hall and the creation of the Carl H. Lindner Medal for Outstanding Business Achievement, awarded annually, and then again in 2011 with the naming of Carl H. Lindner College of Business. He was also inducted into the National Business Hall of Fame and Greater Cincinnati Business Hall of Fame. In addition, he was a Founding Trustee of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and a member of the Alfalfa Club.
These public honors recognized only a small fraction of his generosity. Most gifts were given quietly, often anonymously to organizations, churches and individuals or families that were struck by tragedy or loss. He gave abundantly, gracefully, with a cheerful heart. Although he became one of the wealthiest men in America, he said his "paychecks" were the frequent, spontaneous expressions of gratitude he received from others. In 1994, Xavier University awarded Mr. Lindner the honorary degree Doctor of Humanities and dedicated the Carl H. Lindner Family Physics Building, the final facility completing Xavier's Science Center. In 1994 the City of Cincinnati recognized Mr. Lindner as a Great Living Cincinnatian. In 1997 the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati presented Mr. Lindner with its prestigious Heritage Award. Mr. Lindner was named a "Beacon of Light Humanitarian" by the Cincinnati-based Lighthouse Youth Services. In 1995 he received the International Peace Award, the highest International award given by Jewish National Fund.
Despite his prominent business and philanthropic presence, Mr. Lindner was a mild-mannered man who cherished his privacy. As a young man, he drove his family's milk truck on dates, and pledged that someday he would own a nice car. His one flamboyance was Rolls Royce convertibles, and he was often seen driving around Cincinnati with the top down. Mr. Lindner was a patriot who loved America and never forgot the work ethic he learned in the family's Norwood dairy store. Another of his calling cards read: "Only in America. Gee, am I lucky."
Mr. Lindner is survived by his wife Edyth (nee Bailey), his sons Carl III (Martha), Craig (Frances) and Keith (Courtney), twelve grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Details on the memorial service and funeral arrangements will be forthcoming. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the Kenwood Baptist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.
About American Financial Group, Inc.
American Financial Group is an insurance holding company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio with assets in excess of $30 billion. Through the operations of Great American Insurance Group, AFG is engaged primarily in property and casualty insurance, focusing on specialized commercial products for businesses, and in the sale of traditional fixed and indexed annuities and a variety of supplemental insurance products, such as Medicare Supplement. Great American Insurance Group's roots go back to 1872 with the founding of its flagship company, Great American Insurance Company.
SOURCE: American Financial Group, Inc.