January 2, 2014

The Arnold A. Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies mourns the passing of Ambassador Arnold Saltzman at the age of 97. His obituary, which appeared in The New York Times on January 5th, appears below:


SALTZMAN — Arnold A., Businessman, art collector, diplomat and beloved husband, father,  grandfather, and great-grandfather. Died peacefully at home with his family in Sands Point, NY, January 2, 2014. To no one’s surprise, he was at work in his Manhattan office until a few weeks ago.

Born October 1, 1916, in New York City of immigrant parents, Isidore and Dora. Brother  of Muriel and Ruth. Runner-up in a citywide grade school oratory  contest, and upward from there. His principal at Brooklyn’s Samuel J. Tilden High School recommended him to Columbia College, certain he “would be a credit to his race.” Columbia opened the world to 16-year-old Arnold. President of his fraternity, tennis team member, a debater, economics and government major, with a single class in art  history these formed four great passions of Arnold’s life: business,  government service, arguing, and collecting art.

The fifth was family, starting with a sales call for his family’s sweater company (Premier  Knitting) to Abraham & Straus, where a beautiful young woman, Joan Roth, caught his eye and accepted his invitation for lunch (although she’d just eaten). Joan’s mother learned that evening “I just met the man I’m going to marry.” Married November 21, 1942, in a rabbi’s study on West 88th Street, then off to a three-hour honeymoon on the train to Washington, DC, where Arnold worked on military procurement. During the war, Arnold served as Lieutenant J.G. in the US Coast Guard. Sons Robert and Eric were born in 1945 and 1947 and daughter Marian (Mimi) in 1951.

Arnold merged Premier Knitting with Botany Industries, then became CEO of Seagrave Corp. (a NYSE company, later Vista Resources), which made Seagrave fire engines, paint, leather, glass and architectural window walls. He maintained a devotion to public service, during the Korean  War, working for the Office of Price Administration, and later with USAID and advising the Office of Economic Opportunity, and Sargent Shriver’s new Peace Corps (and giving a Seagrave fire engine to Adis Ababa). Arnold undertook diplomatic assignments for Presidents Kennedy  and Johnson. In 1967, he marched in a Washington, DC demonstration holding his hand-made sign, “Businessmen Against the Vietnam War”. In 1968, he received a Presidential Commendation for his work on the Atomic Weapons Non-proliferation Treaty. He was a close friend and senior adviser to Senator Hubert Humphrey during his run for President, and was chairman of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and worked on US relations with the USSR, and later with the new republics after it broke up.

Reciprocating at Columbia College, Arnold served as chairman of the Board of Trustees. He established the much-admired Double Discovery program, pairing college and Harlem students. He received the Columbia University Medal, and the Institute of War and  Peace Studies, founded by President Eisenhower, was later named for Arnold. Grateful for his own opportunity, Arnold has given scores of scholarships both through university programs, and directly to young people eager to learn and in need of a financial leg up. At the 2012  Columbia College commencement, he walked behind the Class of 1936 banner, its sole representative, to the cheers of the new graduates.

That art history class kindled a lifelong love of art. Arnold collected  throughout his life, astutely studying and chasing paintings and sculpture — in New York and Europe, at artists’ studios, auction houses and art dealers buying, trading, and selling. He made a major gift, of  his German Expressionist paintings, to the National Gallery of Art in Washington. He assumed direction and revitalized the Nassau County Museum of Fine Arts. He was a Trustee of the Baltimore Museum of Art. He and Joan established the Joan and Arnold Saltzman Center for Community Services at Hofstra University, and a group home in Glen Cove, NY, with the YAI Network. Arnold was a Trustee of North Shore University Hospital and Maimonides Hospital and a major donor to the New York Public Library. He was awarded honorary doctorates from Hofstra and Adelphi Universities.

He adored his five grandchildren — Xylon Saltzman; Chloe Saltzman, Gabriel Saltzman; Ian Gottschalk; Michael Saltzman; and two great-grandchildren, Theo and Saskia Saltzman and they loved and admired him often expressed with anecdotes and insightful “Pop” imitations. He  was devoted to his granddaughter, Chloe, who was born with disabilities. Arnold was like a father to his nephew and nieces, Rick Salwen, Laura  Salwen, Barbara Dash and Muriel Wolf.

The love of Arnold’s life was, and remained to his last day, his remarkable wife, Joan, who survives him.  Everyone recognized this, as in this toast at his 80th birthday, “To the best thing about Arnold — Joan.” To which Arnold promptly assented.