Herschel Seder, business leader and philanthropist dies

Seder Obit image

Herschel Seder was the Chairman of the Board of the Milwaukee Valve Company, Inc., which be bought in 1959, with his late partner, Max Koenigsberg. The two would run Milwaukee Valve together for 40 years, expanding its offerings to more than 5,000 items for home and industrial use. He died on March 1, at age 95.

A member of JUF's Prime Minister's Associates, Seder was a long time significant annual  donor to JUF, and a Golden Giver, meaning that he had donated to JUF for 50 consecutive years or more.

"I remember his kind and gentle smile," said Jeffrey Cohen, JUF Senior Development Advisor. "He was a mentor to following generations; like him, his children are involved in the Campaign." Cohen also recalled that Seder's commitment to JUF travelled with him to Boca Raton, where he was active in JUF's Snowbird events.

Born in Webster, Mass. in 1918, Seder graduated with a degree in economics from Johns Hopkins University in 1939. The Army then brought him to Chicago, where he would stay and raise his family after meeting his wife, Ruth Altschuler, in 1944.

"He was stationed in Chicago, and the Jewish community fixed up young, single Jewish men and young Jewish women," said his daughter, Diane Seder. "[Ruth's] father said, 'I like this man. This is the man you should marry.'"

"My father, I consider kind of the legacy of the greatest generation," Robert Seder said. "He was one of those people who grew up a self-made guy… You worked hard, but you had to give it away. Even when business was tough, he still gave."

In 1983, Hershel and Ruth Seder were honored by the Chicago chapter of the Anti-Defamation League for their humanitarian work. He also raised money through a telethon for United Cerebral Palsy for about 20 years, in the summers welcoming children with cerebral palsy to his house for swimming and ice cream.

Seder also was grateful to his alma mater, serving as a trustee at Johns Hopkins for 20 years. He also served on the advisory committees of the university's Whiting School of Engineering-where he established its first endowed professorship in in the department of biomedical engineering-and its School of Advanced International Studies and Applied Physics Laboratory. In 1979, the university honored him with its Distinguished Alumni Award, and in 2000, with its Heritage Award.

In addition, the family has awarded 47 scholarship awards at Johns Hopkins, plus others at the University of Vermont, Brandeis University and Champlain College.

Seder was the beloved husband of the late Ruth Altschuler Seder. He was the dear father of John D. (Cheryl) Seder, James A. (Marie) Seder, Diane (Bruce Rosen) Seder, and Robert A. (Deborah L. Harmon) Seder and the devoted grandfather of Brea, Tal and Zoe Seder, Ilana, Sophie and Eli Rosen, Daniel and Mia Seder, and Jane Seder. The fond brother of Edith Seder (Dr. Bernard Kaye) Kaye, Evelyn Heller, and the late Ada Greenbaum, Betty Fishman and Dorothy Seder, he will also be missed by Lorraine Becker.

Services were held at North Shore Cong. Israel, followed by a private interment. Arrangements were made by Piser Funeral Services. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to The Ark, 6450 N. California Ave., Chicago, IL 60645.

Some of the information in this obituary came from a Chicago Tribune article, written by Meredith Rodriguez.

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