By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Howard Schultz, 94, a pillar of the Dallas Jewish community, passed away Friday, June 17.
Schultz was an entrepreneur who used his accounting background and ingenuity to found Howard Schultz and Associates. In his previous accounting work, Schultz noticed how often business made overpayments to various suppliers. He began approaching businesses offering to review their books, find overpayments and collect them, for a fee, an agreed upon portion of what he had uncovered and returned. It was an innovative idea and one that benefited those who worked for him for three decades and most importantly the Jewish community.
His son Andy Schultz explained at his father’s funeral Monday, June 20, at Tiferet Israel that the business was modeled so that the person at the bottom of the totem pole earned the largest percentage of the company’s income and Schultz earned the smallest.
For Schultz, one of his guiding principles was that “if you make big dollars, you must give big dollars,” said his son Andy, who explained that community leaders Jake Feldman and Ervin Donsky impressed this idea on his father. It was necessary to “give until it hurts.”
He also said that his dad, was an eternal optimist. When faced with the pandemic, Andy said his dad, would say, “‘Don’t worry. I have lived through worse. It is going to get better. Be positive.’” His father refused to sit idle during the pandemic and went to his office every day.
Schultz was a lifelong learner and Jewish education and causes were central to his philanthropic endeavors. Along with the Rosenberg family, he and his late wife Leslie funded the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus on which Akiba Yavneh Academy now sits. It is the school formerly, Akiba Academy and Yavneh Academy that nurtured his children and grandchildren and imbued a sense of Jewish ethics and tikkun olam that have permeated his family tree.
The couple, often with the help of others, founded programs such as LearningFest, Passport to Israel, Teen Tzedakah Foundation, Schultz Israel Scholars and Schultz Leadership Fellows. In 2016, the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas recognized the Schultzes for their vision, leadership and generosity at A Night to Celebrate Jewish Education, an event that drew close to 800 people. The Leslie and Howard Schultz Excellence in Jewish Education Award provides a full scholarship for a Dallas Jewish educator to receive a master’s degree in education from Southern Methodist University. Upon receiving their degrees, the Schultz Scholars continue to leverage the productive relationships they have built with SMU professors to facilitate additional learning opportunities for the Jewish community’s teachers and administrators, as well as serve as model educators and leaders for Dallas-area Jewish schools.
Daughter Jaynie Schultz said that some of the work her father was most proud of was through the Joint Distribution Committee, particularly helping the Jewish community of Argentina after its economic collapse in 2000. Jaynie said he quickly realized that the middle class was suffering. While the wealthy had resources, and the poorest members of the community had help, the middle class had things — cars, homes and clothes — but no way to access money or earn it.
His aim was to help restore that dignity to those who were suffering and he came up with innovative ideas to that end, helping people maintain their pride.
“My father treasured human dignity as his highest value,” said Jaynie. “No one would ever be embarrassed in his presence. If someone was not succeeding professionally, he would coach them rather than chastise, and even when he no longer remembered someone’s name he would smile and share his gratitude for their approaching him.”
She said her parents gave away more than half of their wealth each year and that her parents believed that, “God trusted them with money because God knew they would know what do with it.” They used their wealth for good, to help repair the world and serve the Jewish community.
The Schultz family culture — philanthropy, service to community, dedication to family and living ethically — was built and nurtured by Howard and Leslie Schultz. It was evident in the eulogies given by Schultz’s grandchildren Monday.
Dalya Romaner said that her grandfather taught her that “you work hard so you can build a life that you can enjoy and for the people you love.
Micah Romaner said that as a lifelong learner, his grandfather looked for something to make him a “kinder, more compassionate and more generous person in every experience.”
Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky of Chabad of Dallas concluded the eulogies and said that Schultz lived his life with a sense of urgency and was put on this earth to accomplish a mission, “to make the world a better place.”
He said that Howard Schultz saw the image of God in every single human being. He was a “giant of a man, and a humble person.”
Schultz was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Leslie, on Feb. 24, 2018.
He is survived by his children Jaynie Schultz (Ron Romaner), sons Daniel Schultz (Joni) and Andy Schultz (Kathryn); his many grandchildren: Ben, Dalya, Zak, Gaby, Adina, Sam, Micah, Abigail, Max and James; and his sister, Rita Koslin.
Howard Schultz lived a remarkable life which is detailed in his biography, “Schultz’s Ledger,” published in 2019. His companion and friend Pauline Graivier encouraged him to share his story.
Read more about Howard Schultz in his obituary on p. 22.