BUTTENWIESER, U.S. family. JOSEPH LEON (1865–1938), lawyer, realtor, and community leader. Buttenwieser was born in Philadelphia, Pa., the son of German immigrants. A successful lawyer and real estate operator, Buttenwieser influenced New York State real property legislation. He belonged to the American Jewish elite and participated actively in communal and philanthropic activities in New York. He was prominent in the establishment of the Federation for the Support of Jewish Philanthropic Societies and served as its president during 1924–26. He served on the board of directors of the Hebrew Technical Institute for 28 years and played a major role in the Hebrew Sheltering Guardian Society, United Hebrew Charities, and United Palestine Appeal as well as the Associated Alumni of City College. BENJAMIN JOSEPH (1900–1992), son of Joseph, banker, civic leader, and philanthropist. Born in New York City, he graduated from Columbia College (1919), intending to devote himself to an academic career. However, he joined the investment-banking firm of Kuhn, Loeb and Company as a clerk, and by 1932 had become a partner. After service as an officer in the navy during World War II, Buttenwieser decided to go into public service. He was named assistant high commissioner for Germany by John J. McCloy in 1949, serving there as his adviser on economic matters and de-Nazification. He resigned in 1951, sensing a revival of German antisemitism and "arrogant nationalism." Buttenwieser was active in American politics from the 1930s. He became a leading backer of the Republican Wendell Wilkie in 1940. He was active in New York City and State civic affairs, serving as chairman of the State-City Fiscal Relations
Buttenwieser's philanthropic commitments, both Jewish and nonsectarian, were manifold. In 1959 he became a trustee of Columbia University, to which his family contributed substantially. Prominent in the work of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies from his youth, Buttenwieser served as its president in the 1940s. His wife HELEN LEHMAN (1905–1989), lawyer and civic leader, a niece of Herbert H. *Lehman, started her career as a social worker. She practiced law in New York City for many years, in addition to numerous civic activities.
New York Times (Aug. 18, 1938), on Joseph Leon; Current Biography Yearbook (1950), 78–80 (on Benjamin Joseph); New York Times (June 29, 1962), on Helen Lehman.
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.