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  In Memoriam



Jacob Hiatt
Feb. 25, 2001

Jacob HiattJacob Hiatt, local philanthropist, longtime Trustee and friend of the College, died Feb. 25, at his home in Worcester, at 95.

At the funeral services held on Feb. 26 at Temple Emmanuel in Worcester, President Emeritus John E. Brooks, S.J., paid tribute to his friend, "There is scarcely a citizen of the city of Worcester today who, in one way or another, has not been the beneficiary of Jack's compassion, generosity and thoughtfulness. His benefactions on so many fronts are indeed a legacy that will live on, and forever evoke our gratitude and perpetuate his name in our community."

During his lifetime, Mr. Hiatt provided generous support to local educational, religious and cultural institutions. A strong supporter of education, he donated millions of dollars to assist area schools and colleges, including Holy Cross. 

In 1979, Mr. Hiatt and his wife, Frances, established two wings of the Dinand Library at Holy Cross. Named after Mr. Hiatt's parents, the addition honors the memory of all victims of the Holocaust; a collection of literature related to the Holocaust is housed in one of the wings.

To encourage greater understanding between Christians and Jews, Mr. Hiatt and his daughter and son-in-law, Myra and Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots, made a major gift to Holy Cross and Brandeis University in Waltham to endow two professorships in comparative religion: the Kraft-Hiatt Chair in Judaic Studies at Holy Cross and the Kraft-Hiatt Chair in Christian Studies at Brandeis University. Alan Avery-Peck, professor and acting chair of the religious studies department, has served as the Kraft-Hiatt Professor in Judaic Studies at Holy Cross since 1993.

Other contributions to education include the establishment of the Frances L. Hiatt Scholars Program-named in honor of his late wife, the program has provided merit scholarships for college to outstanding high school seniors in the Worcester area; the Frances L. Hiatt Career Development Program at Brandeis; the Jacob and Frances Chair of European History at Clark University; and the Jacob and Frances Hiatt Institute in Jerusalem, a program that enables students from American colleges and universities to spend up to one year studying Israel's political, social and historical institutions. In 1991, he gave $7.5 million to Clark University to establish the Jacob Hiatt Center for Urban Education, a partnership with the Worcester Public Schools.

Active in many cultural, educational and civic endeavors, Mr. Hiatt had been a member of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees for more than 20 years and a member of the President's Council at Holy Cross. He had also served as a trustee of Assumption College, Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., Boston University, the former Leicester Junior College, now merged with Becker College, and as a life trustee of Clark University. Mr. Hiatt was a founder and patron of Brandeis University.

His contribution to the local community included the donation of $1 million toward building the Frances L. Hiatt Wing at the Worcester Art Museum, which opened in 1983. In addition to serving as an honorary trustee of the Worcester Art Museum and the Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology in Shrewsbury, he was a member of the Council of the American Antiquarian Society, a trustee of the former City Hospital and director of the Worcester chapter of the American Red Cross.

A leader in the Jewish community, Mr. Hiatt was an honorary life member of the board of trustees of Temple Emmanuel, chairman of the management committee of the Jewish Home for the Aged in Worcester, and a member, board director and past president of the Worcester Jewish Federation. He made a $1 million donation to the expansion project of the Frances and Jacob Hiatt Jewish Community Center, completed in 1996.

During his career, he received numerous honors, including the Education Award from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and the 1978 Brotherhood Award from the Worcester chapter of the National Council of Christians and Jews. In 1985, the Worcester Area Advertising Club presented him with the 25th Isaiah Thomas Award, for distinguished community service; Fr. Brooks delivered the address at the dinner honoring Mr. Hiatt. The Telegram & Gazette selected him as the recipient of its Citizen of the Year Award in 1992 as part of the newspaper's Visions 2000 awards program, and, in 1995, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center Foundation honored him with its first annual Joseph T. Benedict Award for Outstanding Community Service. 

Born in Lithuania, Mr. Hiatt served as circuit judge of the Court of Lithuania before coming to the United States in 1935. His parents and three other members of the family, who remained in Lithuania, died during the Holocaust. 

Mr. Hiatt began working at the E.F. Dodge Paper Box Corp. in Leominster, Mass., becoming president and treasurer in 1939. When the company merged with 12 other box and printing companies to become the Rand-Whitney Corp., he remained president and chairman of the board. He had also been president of the Jacob Hiatt Income Trust and Estey Investment Inc. 

Mr. Hiatt earned a bachelor's degree in law from the University of Lithuania and, in 1946, a master's degree in history and international relations from Clark University. He received an honorary doctor of humane letters from Holy Cross in 1973.

Mr. Hiatt is survived by two daughters; a sister; four grandsons; and six great-grandchildren. His wife, Frances, died in 1980. 


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