BUTZEL


BUTZEL, family in Detroit, Michigan. MARTIN BUTZEL (1828–1906), born in Burgellern, Bavaria, immigrated to the U.S. in 1845. In 1851 he opened a dry goods store in Peekskill, New York, then moved to Detroit, and became associated with his brother-in-law, Emil S. Heineman, in the wholesale clothing business. In 1862 Martin, his brother Magnus, and Heineman opened the firm of Heineman, Butzel and Company, supplying uniforms for the Union Army, and later manufacturing ready-made clothing and men's apparel. Martin was a member of the first Detroit Public Lighting Commission and a charter member of the Merchants and Manufacturers Exchange and the Board of Charities. He was president of Detroit's Temple Beth El (1874–78) and of the Beth El Hebrew Relief Society. He took an active interest in the Palestine Colony in Bad Axe, Michigan, an unsuccessful venture in colonization by Russian Jewish refugees in the 1890s. MAGNUS (1830–1900), brother of Martin, born in Burgellern, Bavaria, left Bavaria in 1852 and joined his brother Martin in Peekskill, in the dry goods business. He moved to Detroit in 1861 as a partner in the clothing business. Magnus was a member of the Detroit Board of Education, president of the Detroit Public Library Commission, one of the first directors of the Detroit Board of Commerce, and a leader in the Michigan Republican Party. He was a leader in B'nai B'rith and congregational life. LEO M. (1874–1961), son of Martin Butzel, was born in Detroit. In 1919 he became the first president of the First National Company, an investment affiliate of the First National Bank of Detroit, and in 1925 he became a director of the bank. A recognized authority on corporation law, Leo was considered the city's outstanding lawyer for many years. His role was particularly important in developing the corporate structure of the automobile industry. Butzel was active in Temple Beth El and the American Jewish Committee. His three children included MARTIN L. (1906–82), a prominent Detroit attorney, and president of Temple Beth El and the Detroit chapter of the American Jewish Committee. HENRY M. (1871–1963), son of Magnus, was born in Detroit. He graduated from the University of Michigan (1891), where he was a founder of the student newspaper Michigan Daily. He was admitted to the Michigan Bar (1892) and, with his brother Fred, established the law firm of Butzel and Butzel in 1897. The firm specialized in corporation law and was general counsel for major companies and banks. In 1929 Henry was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court. He was subsequently elected for a short term in 1930, then reelected in 1931, 1939, and 1949. He served as chief justice three times, in accordance with the bench's system of rotation. With his brother Fred, Henry founded the Detroit Legal Aid Bureau of the Bar Association. He was chairman of the Legal Aid Committee during World War I. Henry served as president of Temple Beth El, and also was president of the United Jewish Charities and of other Jewish organizations, receiving many public honors. FRED M. BUTZEL (1877–1948), brother of Henry, was born in Detroit and joined his brother Henry in law practice. However, Fred devoted most of his time to public service andbecame one of the nation's distinguished Jewish leaders. His main philanthropic interest was youth work. Fred was active during World War I in the Detroit Patriotic Fund, predecessor of the Community Chest (later the United Foundation), which he also helped to organize. He was president of the Servicemen's Bureau, Detroit Community Union, and Legal Aid Bureau, which he and his brother Henry founded. He served as commissioner of the House of Corrections. Deeply concerned with the problems of blacks, Fred served for 30 years on the board of the Detroit Urban League, was president of Parkside Hospital, a black institution, and helped finance the college education of many African-American boys. He took a deep interest in immigrants and aided hundreds of newcomers to the U.S. Fred Butzel was one of the few American-born Jews who actively espoused Zionism in its early years. He was president of the United Jewish Charities, one of the original directors of the Detroit Motor Bus Company, vice president of the Detroit Board of Commerce, and a director of the Detroit Federal Savings and Loan Association. In 1952 the Detroit headquarters of the Jewish Welfare Federation and many of its agencies were named after him.

[Irving I. Katz]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.