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Walter Mintz ’50

A picture of Walter Mintz

True friend of Reed Walter Mintz ‘50, former chairman of the board of trustees, died November 16, 2004, of cancer. "Anyone who has had the privilege to know Walter Mintz will feel a sense of deep loss," says Reed President Colin Diver [2002–12] "I will personally miss his wisdom, guidance, sense of humor, and the grace with which he lived his life."

Mintz’s contributions to Reed were far reaching; the college and its students benefited from his business and financial acumen and personal dedication for decades. Mintz served on the board for 33 years, chairing the investment committee and ultimately becoming the first Reed graduate to serve as chairman of the board. While he was chairman, many major projects were undertaken, including the highly successful Campaign for Reed College, of which he was chair until he became board president. His health forced him to resign his board position in 2002, but his involvement with Reed continued as his health allowed.

Mintz was a 1950 economics graduate, and his interest in that department continued throughout his lifetime; in 1985 he established the Walter Mintz Economics Scholarship, which gives critical support to several junior and senior economics majors each year. In 2002, he and his wife, Sandra, along with fellow trustee Thormund Miller ‘41 and his wife, Hannah, also donated $1 million to create an endowed chair in economics, the Thormund A. Miller and Walter Mintz Chair in Economic History.

Mintz’s generosity extended to many of Reed’s areas of need. He felt a strong commitment to maintaining and improving a healthy student financial aid program. In 1989, he and Sandy established the Walter Mintz Opportunity Scholarship to help students who are the first in their family to attend college, who come from single-parent families, or whose working parents simply do not have the means to send their child to Reed.

He also supported construction and improvement projects in the Gray Campus Center, the Educational Technology Center, and the Hauser Library. He donated $1 million to the renovation and expansion of the L.E. Griffin Memorial Biology building, and the replacement of Reed’s chemistry building with a state of the art laboratory research and teaching facility, was completed in large part to his donations.

The college benefited from his long, successful investment career, which began in 1956 at Shearson Hammill, where he was director of research and then executive vice president of its investment division, and culminated with the investment management company he co-founded, Cumberland Associates in New York. He retired as a managing partner in 1982, remaining a special limited partner.

As chair of Reed’s investment committee, his sharp focus and strong leadership influenced Reed’s investment policies and built its endowment at unprecedented levels, even during an era of difficult financial issues and challenges, and a severe national recession." Walter’s years in building the base of endowment has ensured a future economically," for Reed, says current board chair Dan Greenberg ‘62.

In addition to his service at Reed, Mintz served on the boards of several organizations, including the Manhattan Institute, Merrill Lynch Phoenix Fund and Federal Security Trust, the Citizen's Union Foundation, and the NY Society of Security analysts.

Mintz had a tremendous commitment to and understanding of Reed College, demonstrated in the way he mentored new board members and concerned himself with not just raising funds, but in raising spirits and infusing optimism. "When he became (board) chair, he became immersed in the social issues, and began to think about what Reed was, is today, and even more important, what it ought to be," says Greenberg.

On October 9, 2004, a formal resolution was adopted by Reed’s board of trustees in recognition of Mintz' superior service. In part, the resolution read: "We are very pleased to have this opportunity to express our profound appreciation in part because of your innate modesty about your accomplishments. After all, you once characterized the phenomenal investment success of your firm, Cumberland Associates, with three plain words: "We did well." All of your words and actions put Reed first and these many efforts have left the college healthy and vibrant. "Walter, the Reed College board of trustees salutes, honors, and expresses its lasting thanks to you today, by conferring upon you the status of trustee emeritus."

Alan Abelson wrote this about Walter in a recent Barron’s article: "Walter Mintz was in many ways the finest man we’ve ever known, kind and generous, uncommonly empathetic, someone who both treasured his privacy and unfailingly respected yours. He had a wonderful, subtle wit and a ready, sly sense of humor. He was oddly shy and that made him appear at times enigmatic, even a bit distant, but we’ve never known a warmer soul or more agreeable company. The world has lost a truly good man, Wall Street someone whose presence and conduct , for a change, brought it honor, and we an old, trusty and constant friend. We can’t begin to tell you how much we’ll miss him."

Mintz is survived by his wife Sandra, a sister and brother-in-law, and two nieces.

Appeared in Reed magazine: February 2005

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