Scope and Contents
One box of personal correspondence, certificates, newspaper and newsletter clippings, photographs, memorabilia, and a scrapbook document the activities of four members of the Askanase family from 1948 to 2013. Of particular interest is personal correspondence from George Bush and Lloyd Bentsen, a scrapbook belonging to Reuben Askanase that includes newspaper clippings and photographs recording his community involvement in the Houston area, and a panoramic photo of the 1954 San Jacinto High School graduating class.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the Askanase family papers must be obtained from the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
The Woodson Research Center use policy is that researchers assume sole responsibility for any infringement of privacy, literary rights, copyrights, or other rights arising from their use of the archival materials. In addition to any restrictions placed by donors, certain kinds of archival materials are restricted for the life of the creator plus 50 years. These materials include, but are not limited to, student grades, transcripts, and any job applications or recommendations.
Biographical / Historical
Reuben W. Askanase was born October 21, 1908, in Fargo, North Dakota to immigrant parents. Early in life he assisted his mother with the family's chuck wagon -- following migrant workers, cooking and serving them meals on their jobs or boarding many in their home. Following graduation from North Dakota Agricultural College, Askanase moved to Brooklyn and took a position as an office boy at Abraham & Strauss department store, where he met his future wife, Hilda Graham. Over the following years he worked his way up to vice president of the company.
Hilda Graham Askanase was born October 12, 1906, in Old Town, Maine. She received her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maine with a major in French and was a member of the honorary societies Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi. As mentioned, Graham met Reuben Askanase while at Abraham & Strauss, and the two married in 1931, in Akron, Ohio. They remained in Ohio for several years – having two children there, Phyllis and David. Hilda and Ruben moved back to New York briefly before making their final move to Houston in 1945.
After arriving in Houston, Reuben began working with the Columbia Dry Goods store and invested in the purchase of the manufacturer of Evenflow baby bottles. He and his partners built the company into Dunhill International, which owned Spaulding sporting goods, along with other properties. He was active in the Houston Council on Human Relations, the Houston Symphony, and the Alley Theatre. He also served as president of the Houston Sports Association and the Jewish Community Center, chairman of the United Jewish Campaign, trustee of the Rothko Chapel and North Dakota State University (formerly NDAC), and a board member of Allied Mercantile Bank and Benjamin Franklin Savings Association. Reuben received the Max H. Nathan Award for community service from the American Jewish Committee in 1964.
The two were known for their philanthropy, both in the Jewish community and throughout Houston. They helped raise funds for Citizens for Good Schools and the Houston Area Women's Center, among others. Reuben and Hilda were members of Congregation Beth Israel.
Reuben Askanase died January 3, 1991, and Hilda on Aug. 4, 2013, in Houston and are interred at the Beth Israel Cemetery.
Their son, David James Askanase, was born June 28, 1936 in Akron, Ohio. He graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1958 and Harvard Law School in 1962. He married Susan Ellen Silverman in Ohio in 1963. David was a practicing attorney in Houston for many years before retiring.