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Wyner and Related Families of Butrimonys, Lithuania

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Guide to the Papers of Wyner Family Papers, undated, 1863-2004

American Jewish Historical Society Center for Jewish History 15 West 16th Street New York, N.Y. 10011 Phone: (212) 294-6160 Fax: (212) 294-6161 Email: URL: © 2013, American Jewish Historical Society, Boston, MA and New York, NY. All Rights Reserved.

Machine-readable finding aid created by Judith Garner as MS Word document, May 2010. Finding aid was encoded by Marvin Rusinek on May 27, 2010. Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary Creator: Wyner Family Title: Wyner Family Papers Dates: undated, 1863-2004 (bulk 1940-1995) Abstract: The Wyner Family Collection documents the personal, professional, organizational and philanthropic activities of three generations of a prominent Boston Jewish family. The documents describe the operations of the family knitting and textile businesses, the building and management of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel of Boston and the development and operations of the Beth Israel Hospital of Boston (1926-2001.) This collection describes the Wyner family's involvement in a wide variety of organizations, both Jewish and non-Jewish, and spans almost a century of involvement in community affairs and includes such organizations as the American Jewish Historical Society (1962-2005), the Brookline Town Meeting (1960-1995), Adath Jeshurun Synagogue and Cemetery Association (1956-1995), Temple Israel of Boston (1960-1999), Combined Jewish Philanthropies (1969-1999), Jewish Community Relations Council (1970-1990) Union of American Hebrew Congregations (1980-1995) and both the National and New England Knitted Outerwear Association (1977-1992.) There is extensive material documenting the operations of the Wyner Mills, financial statements and legal papers concerning various family trusts, correspondence, governance and financial reports documenting Justin Wyner's Presidency of the American Jewish Historical Society and the involvement of several of the family members with the Beth Israel Hospital, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and the Jewish Community Relations Council. Included in these organizational papers are meeting minutes, reports, correspondence and financial statements. Languages: The collection is in English, with some early correspondence in Hebrew and Yiddish. Quantity: 148.5 linear feet (117 document boxes, 17 oversized boxes) Identification: P-803 Repository: American Jewish Historical Society Location: Located at AJHS, Boston, MA. Return to the Top of Page Biographical Note Wyner Family

This biographical note discusses various members of the Wyner family who are represented in the collection.

George Wyner was born in Vilna, Lithuania in 1862 to Yehudah Leib and Rachel Wyner. George immigrated to Malmesbury, South Africa circa 1877 via London, England, at the age of 15, joining his brother Henry who had immigrated earlier. The brothers were in business together for some period of time after George's arrival, but eventually he had a grain warehouse and wholesaling business of his own as well as an ostrich Farm1. In 1891 he traveled to the United States, per his father's request, to marry Henry's sister-in-law Masha Potruch, who was living in Boston, Massachusetts. Before traveling to Boston, George stopped in New York to visit his sister and brother-in-law, Annie and Judge Snitkin. It was through his sister Annie that George met Gussie Edelman. After Yehuda Leib came to New York to approve the marriage, George and Gertrude (Gussie) Edelman married in New York in August 31, 1891. Gussie agreed to immigrate to South Africa on the condition that after ten years if she did not like it there they would return permanently to the United States. The Wyner family did return to the United States in 1899, via London to New York, one year shy of the ten-year agreement. In 1902, the family moved to Boston, residing in a house bought by George at 22 Gaston Street in the Roxbury section of the city. Before leaving New York, George Wyner filed his Declaration of Intention to become a United States citizen, becoming a citizen on January 27, 1908 in Boston.2

George Wyner became a real estate dealer in the greater Boston area where, along with his real estate holdings, he also built the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in 1926, and became Chairman of the Board and President of the Ritz Arlington Trust Company. A supporter of many philanthropic ventures, he was also treasurer of Shawmut Woolen Mills and served as the Director of Robison Processing Company, a subsidiary of Shawmut.3

George Wyner died on January 2, 1943 at his apartment at the Ritz-Carlton, 15 Arlington Street, Boston, and was buried in Adath Jeshurun Cemetery, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.4

Gertrude (Gussie) Edelman Wyner, one of six children, was born in Minsk, Russia in 1870 to Rabbi Abraham and Esther (Plotkins) Edelman. In the 1880s the Edelman family immigrated to New York where young Gussie eventually managed a home-based garment manufacturing business. As stated above, Gussie married George Wyner in New York on August 27, 1891. George and Gussie were the parents of the following five children: Frances Rose, born in 1893 in South Africa; Isadore Alfred (I.A.), born 1894 in South Africa; Rudolph Harold (R.H.), born 1895 in South Africa; Edward, born in 1898 in South Africa; and Maurice E., born in 1900 in New York.5

While raising her children, Gussie Wyner became involved in the Boston Jewish community through the women's Zionist movement where she was an early officer of the Boston chapter of Hadassah. Through her connection to this local organization, Gussie became active in raising funds for the first Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and as a result, developed a friendship with its leader, Henrietta Szold. She was also an officer of the Women's Auxiliary of the Beth Israel Hospital of Boston (BI). Both George and Gussie were part of the founding group for the BI Hospital. In 1927, she became treasurer of the Women's Auxiliary at the Beth Israel where she proposed the creation of the new concept of the Life Membership Fund, a concept now used by many charitable organizations throughout the United States.

Gussie Wyner died on April 17, 1949 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, where she resided at the time of her death, and was buried with her husband, George, in the Adath Jeshurun Cemetery, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.6

On April 28, 1895, Rudolph Harold Wyner (RH) was born to George and Gussie Wyner in Malmesbury, South Africa. He was the third of their five children. As mentioned above, the Wyner family immigrated to the United States in 1899, first settling briefly in New York before moving to Boston. Rudolph attended the Roxbury Latin School, West Roxbury, MA and Harvard College of Boston, graduating cum laude in 1915.

After his graduation from college, Rudolph first went into the real estate business like his father, George, but by 1916 he had entered the knitting business. His first mill, Shawmut Woolen Mills, Inc., was located in Stoughton, Massachusetts, where he began operations with the purchase of the French and Ward Mills, the oldest knitting mill in the United States, dating back to 1795.

In 1917 Rudolph joined the United States Navy, serving during World War I and earning the rank of Ensign. While Rudolph served in the navy, George Wyner took his son's place at Shawmut until Rudolph was discharged from the Navy in 1919 at which time he again resumed his duties at the mill.

On December 4, 1923 Rudolph married Sara Goldberg of Boston, they had two children, Justin Lawrence Wyner (Jerry), born on August 6, 1925 and Elizabeth Wyner (Mark), born on March 15, 1931. The R.H. Wyner family resided at 237 Dean Road in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Rudolph Wyner founded the New England Outerwear Association, heading this group for 25 years. He also served as president of the National Knitted Outerwear Association from 1941-1944 and was the industry's spokesman in Washington, D.C. during World War II. Rudolph was president of Beth Israel Hospital in Boston from 1959-1961, continuing another generation of his family's service to the hospital. Under his direction, the hospital's physical plant was improved and it began its affiliation with the Harvard Medical School, one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country. In addition, Rudolph served for many years on Beth Israel's Executive Committee and on its Board of Managers. The following are other organizations for which Rudolph served as Trustee: Temple Israel of Boston (where he also served as Vice President and Chairman of the Board of Managers); Hebrew College; the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and Harvard Hillel.

Rudolph H. Wyner died on May 21, 1984 at the age of 89 and was buried in the Adath Jeshurun Cemetery, West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

Sara Goldberg (Wyner) was born on February 1, 1899 to Samuel U. and Gertrude K. Finkelstein Goldberg in Boston, Massachusetts. The Goldberg family immigrated to Boston from Russia, where Samuel Goldberg, a watchmaker, eventually owned and operated the Studio Jewelry Store on Tremont Street. Later, he acquired real estate properties in and around the Boston area. Sara Goldberg graduated from Boston University in 1922 and went on to Radcliffe College. Sara was a member of Hadassah and the founder and first president of the Boston Junior Hadassah. She was also involved with the Temple Israel Sisterhood and served as an honorary Director of Beth Israel Hospital's Women's Auxiliary for many years.

Sara Goldberg Wyner died on December 1, 1965 at the age of 66. She was buried in the Adath Jeshurun Cemetery in West Roxbury, Massachusetts.

On August 6, 1925, Justin Lawrence Wyner (Jerry) was born to Rudolph and Sara Goldberg Wyner in Boston, Massachusetts. Justin first attended the Runkle School and then the Rivers School both in Brookline, transferring to the Roxbury Latin School, which he left in December of his senior year after being accepted at Tufts University in Boston. At Tufts, Justin was the Editor-in-Chief of the college newspaper, The Tufts Weekly. He graduated cum laude in 1946, with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry, and in 1948 he earned an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business. After graduating from Harvard, he became Manager of the Vanta Corporation, a subsidiary of Shawmut. From 1949-1960, Justin was the director of the New England Knitting Outerwear Association, and from 1950-1968 he was Chairman of the Standards Committee of the National Knitwear Manufacturers' Association, serving as the Association's director in 1955.

On July 3, 1955, Justin married Genevieve Gloria Geller in New Rochelle, New York. Justin and Genevieve became the parents of three sons: George Michael, born February 18, 1958; Daniel Mark, born September 23, 1959; and James Henry, born February 18, 1962. The Wyner family resided first at 33 Martha's Lane and then at 250 Newton Street, both of Brookline, and later at 20 Rowes Wharf, Boston.

In 1967 Justin became President of Shawmut, taking over the position from Raymond Franks, the original owner of Robison Rayon Company, a company that had merged with Shawmut in 1933. Franks stayed on as Shawmut's Vice President, while Rudolph Wyner held the position of Chairman of the Board. In addition to the Shawmut enterprises, the family also owned and operated the Chestnut Hill Boat Company, Stoughton, Massachusetts, from the late 1950s to the 1980s.

Justin remained president of Shawmut until 1985 handing over the reins to his sons Daniel and James Wyner, becoming Chairman of the Board of R.H. Wyner Associates, including the Shawmut Mills Division.

Justin has been very involved in many Jewish and civic activities over the years and was twice named Man of the Year, in 1982 by the Brookline Rotary Club and in 1991 by the New England Chassidic Center. Amongst his many activities, he was the elected Town Moderator of Brookline for a total of 15 years and President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston. (See Chronology for Justin Wyner's extensive organizational work.)

Genevieve Gloria Geller Wyner was born in New York, the youngest of three daughters and one son born to Max and Ida Wachstein Geller. Max Geller founded and was President of the New York City advertising agency of Weiss & Geller and President of the Yoo Hoo Chocolate Company and the Waltham Watch Company. The Geller family resided at 168 Bon Air Avenue, New Rochelle, New York.

Genevieve graduated from New Rochelle High School in 1948, and in the fall of that year she entered Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts. At Wellesley, Genevieve became Editor-in-Chief of The Wellesley College News, and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Arts in Biblical History. It was while at Wellesley that Genevieve met Justin Wyner. Later, she went on to earn an Ed.M Degree from Harvard University, Graduate School of Education, where her concentration was in Human Development (1982.) Other educational activities included attending Brandeis University's School of Contemporary Jewish Studies as a special student in Jewish Education (1972-1973); Hebrew College Ulpan (1980); Dartmouth's one-week "Computer College" (1988); and the Zimmerman Conference at Hebrew Union College (1989-1990.)

After graduating from Wellesley, Genevieve accepted a job as a news reporter for The Daily Times of Mamaroneck, New York, and in 1954 she took a position as a writer with the Norman A. Schorr Public Relations firm of New York City. She left the firm in 1955 when she moved to Boston after her marriage.

After raising three sons, Genevieve served as the Director of the Sudbury Skating and Tennis Club, Sudbury, Massachusetts, and was also a counselor for the Cambridgeport Problem Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1982, Genevieve joined the family business as Director of Human Resources and Treasurer of Shawmut Corporation. While employed at Shawmut, she was responsible for all advertising and public relations for the company. As a National Certified Counselor, Genevieve was a member of the American Association for Counseling and Development and the American Mental Health Counseling Association.

Along with her various employment positions over the years, Genevieve participated in a variety of community organizations, including Town Meeting Member, Brookline, Massachusetts; Member of the Brookline Bicentennial Commission; Marriage Encounter-Jewish Expression member; Member of the Oral History Committee of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies; Member of Midbar Steering Committee; Contributing Editor of The Tennis Journal; Staff Writer for A Guide to Jewish Boston volume 5, number 1; and the following activities and positions at Temple Israel, Boston: President, Parent Teachers Association; Chair, Public Relations Committee; Vice President; Assistant Treasurer; Member, Board of Trustees; Member of the Temple Israel singers; speaker, Slichot Service (1990); participant, High Holy Day services; member of the Maintenance Committee; and substitute teacher at the Temple's religious school.

Shawmut Corporation (1916-2003) was founded in 1916 by Rudolph Wyner and began operations with the purchase of the French and Ward Company's manufacturing plant in Stoughton, Massachusetts. The French and Ward mill was the oldest knitting mill in the United States, dating back to 1795. After its purchase by Rudolph Wyner, the mill renamed to the Shawmut Woolen Mills. The building was expanded over the years until 1984, when the company moved to its present West Bridgewater headquarters. For many years Shawmut manufactured knitted fabrics and laminated products, setting new standards in the industry and maintaining plants in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Georgia, Puerto Rico, with sales offices in New York, Los Angeles and other major cities. For decades, it held a leadership position in the knitted fabric world. In the early 1920s, Shawmut acquired an apparel manufacturer and in 1933 a yarn mill, and by the 1940s the company was manufacturing and distributing its own line of braided fabric and branded knitted children's apparel, as well as synthetic yarns. Most of Shawmut's production during World War II was supplying the military with yarns for parachute shroudlines, knitted blankets, field jackets and bomb parachutes. After the war, and until the late 1950s, Shawmut continued to manufacture and sell yarns, knitted fabric and finished apparel.

In 1958, the company became one of the first to license a newly developed European process, known as flame laminating, to use with its jersey cloth. The process became so successful that a few years later the company made the decision to divest itself of its other operations and concentrate entirely on bonding and laminating. Due to this concentration, as well as the purchase of the Brooklyn Products Company in 2003, Shawmut is now considered a major source for automotive materials and one of the largest independent providers of fabricated and engineered textile components in the industry. Shawmut, a privately held company and a family owned business for four generations, is also a major supplier of materials for the medical field and shoe industry. Along with its headquarters in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the company has facilities in Michigan, New York, North Carolina and Tennessee.

Footnotes 1No author noted, Chronology of the Wyner Family, 1800-1949. See Notes, Genealogy & Collection Reference Materials at the end of the collection, box 141. 2Arbeiter, Nancy, CGRS, Wyner Research Report, 1997. See Notes, Genealogy & Collection Reference Materials at the end of the collection, box 141. 3Ibid. 4Ibid. Also see The Wyner Collection, Series I: Family/Personal, Subseries I: George and Gussie, Boxes 1 and 2. 5Ibid. 6Hyman, Paula E. and Deborah Dash Moore, editors; 1998. Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, Vol. II M-Z, pgs 1514-1515. Chronology 1862 George Wyner born in Vilna, Lithuania. 1870 Gertrude (Gussie) Edelman born in Minsk, Russia to Rabbi Abraham and Esther Edelman. 1878 George Wyner emigrates from Vilna to Malmesbury, South Africa. 1880s The Edelman family immigrates to New York. 1891 George Wynger and Gussie Edelman marry in New York, then return to South Africa. 1895 Rudolph Wyner, the third child of George and Gussie Wyner, born on April 28 in Malmesbury, South Africa. 1898 Ida Wachstein, mother of Genevieve (Geller) Wyner, born on September 12. 1899 Max Geller, father of Genevieve (Geller) Wyner, born on May 1 in Austro-Poland to Aziel and Zipporah Regenbogen Geller. 1899 George and Gussie Wyner, along with their four children, immigrate to America. 1899 Sara Goldberg, future wife of Rudolph Wyner, born in Boston, Massachusetts. 1904 The George Wyner family moves to Boston, Massachusetts. 1908 Rudolph Wyner enters Roxbury Latin School, class of 1912, but leaves at the end of his junior year to attend Harvard College. 1915 Rudolph Wyner graduates cum laude from Harvard College. 1916 Rudolph Wyner enters knitting business, his first mill, Shawmut Woolen Mills, Inc. is located in Stoughton, Massachusetts. The company begins operation with the purchase of the French and Ward knitting mill, the oldest knitting mill in the United States (circa 1795.) 1917 Rudolph Wyner enters the United States Navy as an Ensign during World War I. George Wyner assumes operations at the Shawmut Woolen Mills during Rudolph's service. 1919 Rudolph Wyner is discharged from the United States Navy and returns to Shawmut Woolen Mills. 1922 Sara Goldberg graduates from Boston University, later attending graduate school at Radcliffe College. 1923 Rudolph Wyner and Sara Goldberg marry in Boston. 1925 Max Geller and Ida Wachstein marry in New York. 1925 Justin Lawrence Wyner is born on August 6th to Rudolph and Sara Wyner. 1926 George Wyner builds the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts. 1927 The Ritz-Carlton Boston opens on May 18th. Edward Wyner, son of George Wyner, manages the hotel. 1927 Abraham Edelman, father of Gussie Wyner, dies and is buried in Palestine. 1927-1949 Gussie Wyner is treasurer of the Women's Auxiliary of Boston's Beth Israel Hospital. While in this position, she proposes the creation of the "Life Membership Fund." 1930 Genevieve Geller is born on November 28 in New York, to Max and Ida Geller. 1931 Elizabeth Wyner born in Boston on March 15 to Rudolph and Sara Wyner. 1933 Robison Rayon of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, owned by Raymond G. Franks, merges with Shawmut to become Shawmut Robison Processing Company. 1933 Shawmut Woolen Mills purchases 105 to 129 Porter Street, Stoughton, MA, from its previous owner, Stretton and Sons. 1941 Max Geller founds Weiss and Geller, Inc., a New York City advertising agency, where he is President until he closes the agency in 1986. 1941-1943 Rudolph serves as president of the National Outerwear Association. 1942 Gussie Wyner becomes a member of the Board of Trustees, Jewish Memorial Hospital. 1943 George Wyner dies on January 2 in Boston, Massachusetts. 1943 Justin Wyner attends Roxbury Latin School but leaves in December of his senior year to attend Tufts College. 1946 Justin Wyner graduates cum laude from Tufts College with a BS degree in Chemistry. 1948 Shawmut Woolen Mills becomes Shawmut, Inc. 1948 Justin Wyner graduates with an MBA from Harvard Graduate School of Business. 1948 Vanta Corporation becomes a subsidiary of Shawmut, Inc. 1948 Justin Wyner becomes manager of the company. 1948 Genevieve Wyner graduates from New Rochelle High School. 1948 Genevieve Wyner enters Wellesley College. 1948-1971 Justin Wyner is Director of Communications, Brookline Civil Defense. 1949 Gussie Wyner dies on April 17 in Boston, Massachusetts. 1949-1960 Justin Wyner is Director of the New England Knitting Outerwear Association. 1950-1968 Justin Wyner is Chairman of Standards Committee, National Knitwear Manufacturer's Association. 1950 Justin Wyner becomes Director/Honorary Life Director, National Knitwear Manufacturer's Association. 1950-1984 Justin Wyner is Brookline Town Meeting Member. 1950-1952 Justin Wyner is Class Agent, Tufts College. 1951-1954 Rudolph Wyner is President, Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts. 1952 Genevieve Geller graduates from Wellesley College with a BA in Biblical History. 1953-1954 Genevieve Geller is a news reporter for The Daily Times, Mamaroneck, New York 1954-1955 Genevieve Geller is a writer for Norman A. Schorr Public Relations, New York, New York. 1955 Justin Wyner and Genevieve Geller marry on July 3 in New Rochelle, New York. 1955 Raymond G. Franks succeeds Rudolph Wyner as president of Shawmut. 1955 Rudolph Wyner becomes Chairman of the Board. 1956-1957 Justin Wyner is Chairman, Knit Goods Industry Campaign, Combined Jewish Philanthropies. 1957-1961 Justin Wyner is Director, Brookline Community Council. 1958-1961 Justin Wyner is Director, Brookline Taxpayer's Association. 1958 George Michael Wyner is born on February 18 to Justin and Genevieve Wyner. 1958 Shawmut becomes one of the first companies in the United States to license a newly developed European process known as flame laminating for use with jersey cloth. 1959 Daniel Mark Wyner is born on September 23 to Justin and Genevieve Wyner. 1959 Shawmut, Inc. employs 1,200 workers and has facilities in Stoughton, MA, Pawtucket, RI, Montezuma, GA and Puerto Rico. Late 1950s Justin Wyner founds the Chestnut Hill Boat Company, Inc. 1960 Justin Wyner becomes Chairman of the Brookline United Fund Campaign. 1960-1965 Justin Wyner is a member of the Board, American Jewish Committee. 1960-1978 Justin Wyner is Founder and Director of the National Fabric Laminations Association. 1961-1964 Justin Wyner is Chairman of Advisory Committee, Town of Brookline. 1961-1964 Justin Wyner is a member of the Social Planning and Allocations Committee, Combined Jewish Philanthropies. 1962 James Henry Wyner is born on February 18 to Justin and Genevieve Wyner. 1963 Rudolph and Justin Wyner buy out other family members for joint ownership of the company and go into the laminating business. 1964 Justin Wyner becomes Treasurer, Adath Jeshurun Cemetery Association, Inc. 1964 Justin Wyner becomes a member of the Republican Town Committee. 1964 Justin Wyner becomes a Trustee of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. 1964 Justin Wyner becomes a Trustee of Temple Israel. 1965 Sara Wyner dies on December 1st. 1965 Shawmut sells the facility at Porter Street as an operating business to the Ames Textile Division of Lawrence Manufacturing Company. 1966 Justin Wyner becomes a Trustee of Beth Israel Hospital. 1966-1968 Justin Wyner is President of Harvard Hillel. 1967 Shawmut, Inc. changes its name to R.H. Wyner Associates, Inc. 1967 R.H. Wyner Associates, Inc. purchases the Duplan Corporation, which consists of machinery and a building on Canon Street in Stoughton, Massachusetts. This business operates under the name of Shawmut Mills, Division of R.H. Wyner Associates, Inc. 1967 Shawmut Inc. sells all of its physical assets in Stoughton to the Duplan Corporation, becoming the Shawmut Division of the Duplan Corporation. 1967 Justin Wyner succeeds Mr. Franks as President of Shawmut. Franks remains with the company as Vice President, with Rudolph Wyner Chairman of the Board. 1967 Justin Wyner becomes a Trustee of Hebrew College. 1967 Justin Wyner becomes a Trustee of Temple Kehillath Israel. 1967-1971 Justin Wyner is a member of the Advisory Council, American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, Chairman of the Greater Boston section. 1967-1977 Justin Wyner is Director of the Yoo Hoo Chocolate Beverage Company. 1968 Justin Wyner is National Chairman of the Republicans for Eugene McCarthy for President. 1968-1969 Justin Wyner is Chairman, Ad Hoc Committee to consider future support of Greater Boston Hillels, Combined Jewish Philanthropies. 1968-1971 Justin Wyner is President of the Hillel Council of Metropolitan Boston. 1970-1973 Justin Wyner is on the National Board of Governors, American Association for Textile Technology. 1970-1974 Genevieve Wyner is Director of Public Relations of Radin, Inc. 1970-1982 Justin Wyner is Town Moderator, Brookline Town Meeting, Brookline, MA 1971-1972 Justin Wyner is on the Board of Directors, Action for Boston Community Development. 1971-1973 Genevieve Wyner attends Brandeis University, School of Contemporary Jewish Studies Special Student, concentrating on Jewish Education. 1972-1978 Justin Wyner is on the scholarship committee of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. 1972-1980 Justin Wyner is a member of the Finance Committee, Beth Israel Hospital. 1974-1977 Genevieve Wyner is the Director of the Sudbury Skating and Tennis Club, Sudbury, MA. 1976-1980 Justin Wyner is a member of the Board, Brookline High School PTA. 1977 Genevieve Wyner becomes a contributing editor of The Tennis Journal. 1977 Genevieve Wyner is a staff writer for the Guide to Jewish Boston Vol. 5, No. 1. 1977 Genevieve Wyner is a founding member and past president of the Young Women's Division, Combined Jewish Philanthropies. 1977-1978 Justin Wyner is Chairman of the Cultural Affairs Committee, Hebrew College. 1979-1982 Justin Wyner is President of Temple Israel. 1979-1982 Justin Wyner is Director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. 1979-1982 Justin Wyner is a member of the Maintenance of Union Membership, Committee of Presidents of Large Corporations Biennial Delegate, and Union of American Hebrew Congregations. 1980 Genevieve Wyner attends Hebrew College Ulpan. 1981 Daniel Wyner graduates from Dartmouth College. 1981 George Wyner graduates from Harvard College. 1981-1990 Justin Wyner is Chairman of the MASCO Garage Committee, Temple Israel. 1982 Genevieve Wyner graduates with an Ed.M degree from Harvard University, Graduate School of Education. 1982 Justin Wyner is Man of the Year, Brookline Rotary Club. 1982 Ida Geller dies in New York on June 15th. 1983 Justin Wyner is Chairman of the Board of Managers, Temple Israel. 1983-1989 Genevieve Wyner is a member of the Brookline Community Cable Commission. 1983-1990 Genevieve Wyner is a counselor at Cambridgeport Problem Center in Cambridge, MA. 1984 Rudolph Wyner dies in Boston on May 21st. 1984 Shawmut Mills moves its headquarters to its present location on Manley Street in West Bridgewater, MA. 1984 Justin Wyner becomes a member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Division, Major Gifts Committee, Professional Committee, American Cancer Society. 1984 Genevieve Wyner has her Bat Mitzvah at Temple Israel, Boston, MA. 1984 James Wyner graduates from Yale University. 1985-1989 Justin Wyner is a trustee of the Roxbury Latin School. 1985-1989 Justin Wyner is a trustee and Chairman of the Committee to Select Audit Firm, Roxbury Latin School. 1986-1992 Justin Wyner is Chairman, ROFEH Annual Dinners. 1987 Daniel Mark Wyner marries Lorna Douglas Stokes on May 3rd. 1987 Justin Wyner becomes governor of the Board of Governors, Hebrew Union College. 1987 Justin Wyner becomes Director of the American Cancer Society, Massachusetts Division. 1987 Justin Wyner becomes a Trustee of the American Jewish Historical Society. 1988 Genevieve Wyner attends Dartmouth Computer College one-week intensive course. 1988 Genevieve Wyner is Chair of the Brookline Community Cable Commission. 1988 Max Geller dies in New York on August 14th. 1988 Justin Wyner becomes a public member of corporation, United Way of Massachusetts Bay. 1988-1991 Justin Wyner is Director, Brookline Civic Association. 1988-1993 Justin Wyner is Chairman of the Library and Archives Committee of the American Jewish Historical Society. 1989-1990 Genevieve Wyner attends Zimmerman Conference, Hebrew Union College. 1990 Justin Wyner is the Chairman of the Campaign, Jody Dow for Governor's Council. 1990 George Michael Wyner marries Barbara Perkins in Vermont on June 3rd. 1990 Genevieve Wyner is a speaker at the Slichot Service at Temple Israel. 1991 Justin Wyner becomes a member of the Governor's Committee on Juvenile Justice. 1991 Justin Wyner is Man of the Year, New England Chassidic Center. 1991 Justin Wyner is a Jewish Expression Delegate, World Congress of Marriage Encounter. 1991-1992 Genevieve Wyner is on the Board of Directors for the Boston Jewish Film Festival. 1992 Justin Wyner is a member of the Major Gifts Committee, New Israel Fund. 1992 Justin Wyner is Chairman of the Implementation Committee for "Restoring Preeminence" at the American Jewish Historical Society. 1992 Genevieve Wyner volunteers for the Chaplaincy Pastoral Visitors Program at Brigham and Women's Hospital. 1992-1993 Justin Wyner is a member of the Capital Campaign Cabinet, Tufts University Hillel. 1992-1993 Justin Wyner is a member of the Campaign Cabinet, Israel Bonds. 1993 Justin Wyner is on the 45th Reunion Committee, Harvard Business School. 1993-1998 Justin Wyner is President of the American Jewish Historical Society. 1998 Justin Wyner is Delegate to Massachusetts Republican Convention. 1999 Justin Wyner becomes a member of the Board of Managers at Rowes Wharf Residences. 1999 Justin Wyner becomes a member of the Board of Trustees and Chairman of the Governance Committee for Martha's Vineyard Hospital. 2002 Justin Wyner becomes President of the Board of Managers at Rowes Wharf Residences. 2003 Shawmut Corporation completes acquisition of the assets of Brooklyn Products, Inc. of Brooklyn, Michigan. Brooklyn Products is a leading provider of die cut and formed soft material inserts used in the production of automobile door panels, sunshades, kick panels and specialty seating components. 2004 Justin Wyner receives the K'lal Yisrael Award from the Synagogue Council of Massachusetts. Return to the Top of Page Scope and Content Note The Wyner Family Collection documents the personal, professional, organizational and philanthropic activities of three generations of a prominent Boston Jewish family. The documents describe the operations of the family knitting and textile businesses chronicling the companies' shift in manufacturing over most of the 20th century, from the manufacture of clothing and knitwear during the first half of the century, to the manufacture of medical and automobile materials later on.

Other documents record the building and management of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel of Boston and the development and operations of Beth Israel Hospital, a respected Boston institution. The documents also reflect the activities of various family members and their involvement in a variety of other civic, religious and professional organizations on a local, national and international level. Among these are materials describing the activities of the Brookline, Massachusetts Town Meeting, Harvard Hillel, Temple Israel of Boston, the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston, the Jewish community Relations Council of Boston, the Hebrew Free Loan Society, the American Jewish Historical Society, Hebrew College, Hebrew Union College and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations to name a few.

In addition, the collection also contains documents from several family trusts, in particular the George Wyner Trust, which describes family ownership of real estate properties in the Greater Boston area. The collection contains a large volume of correspondence that includes letters to and from local and national political figures. Although most of the material is in English, some is in Hebrew and Yiddish, especially early correspondence to and from family members.

The Wyner Family Collection is valuable to researchers interested in the history of New England mills of the 20th century, particularly as the Wyner family's Shawmut Mills succeeded in transitioning and expanding their enterprises and remains a viable operation into the 21st century.

Also of particular interest to researchers, especially those studying Boston Jewish history, are documents describing Temple Israel, Beth Israel Hospital, the Jewish Community Relations Council and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, which chronicle much of the Boston Jewish organizational community from 1940-2000.

In addition to being arranged into six series, each series is arranged into sub-series. Minimal original order existed with the exception of the business papers and photographs, which had some original order that was followed as closely as possible in those parts of the collection. All other documents were filed either alphabetically or chronologically and in many cases both systems were used, filing first alphabetically by subject and then chronologically by date within the subject areas. It is important when looking for materials concerning a particular subject to check the subject area as well in Series IV, V and VI which contains photographs, artifacts and oversized materials related to the first three series.

Return to the Top of Page Arrangement The collection is organized into six series as follows:

Series I: Family/Personal, undated, 1891-1999 Subseries I: George & Gussie Wyner, undated, 1891-1949 Subseries II: Rudolph & Sara Wyner, undated, 1918-1985 Subseries III: Justin & Genevieve Wyner, undated, 1923-2004 Series II: Organizations, undated, 1918-2005 Subseries I: National/International, undated, 1975-2002 Subseries II: Local Civic and Professional, undated, 1960-1999 Subseries III Local Jewish undated, 1926-2002 Series III: Business, undated, 1916-2003 Subseries I: Subject Files, undated, 1950-1999 Subseries II: Wyner Companies, undated, 1916-2003 Series IV: Audio Visual, undated, 1911-1998 Subseries I: Photographs, undated, 1911-1993 Subseries II: Cassette Tapes, CDs and Phonograph Records, undated, 1954-1995 Subseries III: Videotapes and Film Series V: Artifacts, undated, 1925-1982 Subseries I: Awards and Trophies, 1956, 1970 Subseries II: Business Samples, undated, 1950s Subseries III: Business General, undated, 1948 Subseries IV: General Miscellaneous, undated, 1925-1982 Series VI: Oversized Material, undated, 1909, 1920-1993 Subseries I: Family, undated, 1930s-1993 Subseries II: Organizations, undated, 1939-1997 Subseries III: Business, undated, 1911-1999 Subseries IV: Audio/Visual, undated, 1909-1969 Subseries V: Publications, 1924-1991 Return to the Top of Page

Wyner History Web Page

Wyner Family History A History of the Descendants of George Wyner Family History and Genealogy This is the original page on Wyner Family History developed by Richard Ember.

Additional family photos with some accompanying notes will be posted soon.

Wyner Children Sledding, Boston, 1903 Frances, I.A., Rudolph, Eddie and Murray, sledding in the snow, near the house on Gaston Street in Roxbury (Boston), 1903 (Frances was 11 years old, I.A. 10, Rudolph 8, Eddie 7, and Murray 3)

Wyner Family Portrait, 1925 Frances, I.A., Rudolph, George, Eddie, Gussie and Murray, 1925 Announcing the Boston Ritz-Carlton, 1926 Announcing the Boston Ritz-Carlton, 1926 (George Wyner seated third from left, Edward Wyner standing behind him left)

Welcome Welcome to the Wyner Family History website. This page was originally posted as part of the George Wyner Trust website. Our hope is to provide an information source for Family History, Business and Trust History, Geneaological Charts, Audio Clips, Home Movies, Photographs, and Current News on the locations, activities and history of family members, and Current Business News on the properties and current activities of the GEORGE WYNER TRUST, a Massachusetts trust which since 1943 has operated, and continues to operate, the real estate business founded by George Wyner in 1902.

Family Tree Charts

We will soon be posting a family tree of the descendants of George and Gussie Wyner. We are also working on a family tree beginning with the parents of George Wyner and his brother Henry (YEHUDA LEB WYNER and FAGEL REVA WYNER), and including all the children of George Wyner and Henry Wyner (an easy-to-view introduction to family history).

Wyner Family Portrait, Malmesbury, South Africa, 1894 Wyner Family Portrait, Malmesbury, South Africa, 1894 Margaret, Henry, Gertie, Sol*, Ruben, Rachel, Sammy, Annie, and Maurice Malmesbury, South Africa 1894

  • (Frances Wyner’s cousin and future husband)

Also coming soon: a family tree of the descendants of Henry Wyner, George’s elder brother, and his wife, Annie Mickleshanski Potruch.

We are also going to post a copy of a 1903 family tree (prepared for the “Cousins Party” of 1903 given by Louis A. Freedman a cousin of Annie Wyner, not to be confused with Louis M. Fredman, another of Annie’s cousins, who married Annie and Henry’s daughter Rachel), showing the ancestors of Henry Wyner’s wife, Annie Mickelshanski Potruch (going back to 1762 and to the Abravanel family).

A Brief History of George and Gussie Wyner (A Note as to Family History: Keep in mind that memories become inexact over time, and much of what is here is from a second- or third-hand re-telling by our parents and grandparents of the original events. Some of these stories were passed down in different versions by George and Gussie’s children, so don’t be surprised if any family history recounted here fails to match the stories you have heard. Please, send us your version of any episode you have heard differently, and we will try to incorporate all alternatives.)

1863-1898: Russia to South Africa George Wyner was born on December 26, 1863, in Vilna, in the Lithuanian area of the Czarist Russian Empire, the youngest son of Yehuda Leb Wyner and Fagel Reva Wyner. (His given name was Gershon Eleazar, which he later anglicized upon arrival in London as George, for Gershon, and Wyner, as an English spelling of the Yiddish derivation from Vilna, spelled Wilno in Polish/Lithuanian).

Frances always recounted that George’s father had rented apple orchards. Supposedly, George’s first job was at age five, guarding the apple orchards against wild animals. It seems that George’s father was not poor, although poverty among friends and neighbors was a theme of George’s childhood. George didn’t complain, but he told one story about poverty. He used to tell about visiting relatives for dinner, and he remebered loving the cooked prunes that were served for dessert. He was always told by his parents never to eat the last one on his plate, no matter how much he liked them, because the hosts might then be humiliated, by feeling that their limited means had not allowed them to serve enough food.

George’s elder brother Henry was the first to leave Vilna, in about 1872, at the age of thirteen. Many Jewish families were anxious to have their children leave the country in that period. Jewish youths recruited into the Czarist army were pressured to abandon their religion, and a wave of anti-Semitism was encouraged by the authorities in the 1870s. The story passed down is that Henry became a cabin boy on a merchant ship, traveled far and wide, eventually to Australia, and from there to Singapore, where he started his first business. About 1877, he heard that economic opportunity was flourishing in South Africa. He boarded anther ship and landed in Cape Town, where he started a trading business with the Boer farmers. In about 1880, Henry was informed by his father that a marriage had been arranged for him in Vilna. Henry and George’s father, Yehuda Leb Wyner (Note: There are conflicting reports about George’s father’s name, and any recollections are appreciated) was a close friend of a wealthy Jewish man in the timber business, Solomon Mickleshanski, from the small town of Butrimonys, outside of Vilna. (It seems likely that Henry and George and their father lived in the same small town, and that Vilna, a well-know nearby city, not their home but simply the easiest way to describe their place or origin to strnager’s in later life.) The two older men had agreed that Henry should marry Solomon’s granddaughter, Annie Mickleshanski Potruch, then about twenty-two years old. Henry returned to Vilna, a long and dangerous journey, was quite taken with his arranged bride, and was married there. Frances used to tell the story that Henry had seen an unkwon youn woman in town the day of his arrival, and was impressed with her beauty, only to happily find that very evening that the unknown beauty was in fact his arranged bride. He soon brought Annie back to South Africa. Henry and Annie’s first child, Reuben, was born in Stellenbosch, near Cape Town, in 1882.

George left Vilna in about 1880, at the age of seventeen. He travelled first to London, and stayed with a relative living there. Rudolph in a 1949 letter indicated that George had stayed in London with Leon and Julia Eyges, Julia being Annie’s sister. Julia would probably at that time have become George’s sister-in-law (after Henry’s marriage to Annie). After a period of time, probaly no more than a few months, hearing the apparently glowing reports from Henry of business in South Africa, George joined Henry there and settled in Malmesbury, a small farming and wine-growing town in the countryside, a few miles from Stellenbosch and not far from Cape Town.

Much of George’s later-in-life storytelling (an entertaining source of humour and adventure for his children and gradnchildren) focussed on a friendly rivalry with Henry, who seems to have regarded George as a naive newcomer in the first stages of their joint business. Their early trading business consisted of buying tools, supplies and hardware in Cape Town, packing it on horses and mules, and riding into the countryside to sell to the mostly Boer (i.e. Dutch-desecnded Afrikaaner) farmers. Money was scarce in the beginning. Later on, George always told his family that he had to start out in business travelling on a horse with only one eye.

George Wyner and Reuben Wyner, 1887 George Wyner and nephew Reuben Wyner. Malmesbury, South Africa, 1887 In a story reminiscent of the American West (and every family member has probably heard the details differently), George later told of a particularly memorable journey on horseback with Henry. They encountered a large troop of baboons, crowding around them on the sides of a trail. Henry was scared and wanted to turn back. With time and supplies limited, the nineteen-year old George insisted on forging straight ahead. The baboons appeared ever more menacing, at least to Henry, who finally spurred his horse to a gallop to get past the threat. At this point, George would, in his storytelling, recall that Henry was no great horseman, and Henry’s horse instantly became an out-of-control runaway. George, in the best Tom Mix cowboy fashion, chased after Henry, and while holding the reins of his own horse, pulled the frightened Henry onto his saddle, as Henry’s horse ran off into the distance. One assumes that George was sometime thereafter traded up from the one-eyed horse to better stock.

George soon acquired a reputation among the Boer farmers he met for absolute honesty and integrity, and perhaps a litle charm and wit as well. The business progressed when the Boer farmers started asking George and Henry to sell their grain for them in Cape Town. George and Henry set up a warehouse in Malmesbury to store grain for sale. The 1898 picture of George, family and employees, taken just before his departure, seems to be in front of that warehouse.

George Wyner Family, Malmesbury, South Africa, 1898 George Wyner and family, with other household members, employes, and associates. Malmesbury, South Africa, 1898 (From left: I.A., on bicycle sixth from left, unidentified woman and young girl, Frances, with head inclined left, George, Rudolph, Edward and Gussie)

By around 1891, at age twenty-eight, George had become sufficiently established that he felt ready to seek out a bride. Rudolph’s recollection was that George’s father had in 1891 agreed on a SECOND arranged marriage with his old friend, Solomon Mickleshanski, this time the idea being for George to marry Annie’s sister Masha, then living in Boston. George dutifully obeyed his fathwer’s requerst to travel to Boston, but landed fisrt in New York, for a suposedly short stay with a sister married to Judge Snitkin. Supposedly by accident, George noticed an attractive young girl named Gussie Edelmann, was quite taken with her, and cabled his father in Vilna for permission to change the marriage plans. His father told him to hold everything, and wait for the father to travel from Vilna to New York to look over the new intended. George and Gussie waited several anxious months, not knowing what would happen. Upon arrival, the father was impressed that Gussie’s father, Abraham Edelman, was a respected rabbi originally from Minsk (where Gussie was born), and gave his blessing to the unplanned marriage. (The unchosen Masha soon after married a Mr. Shearson in Boston, to no apparent harm).

Gussie Edelman, New York, 1891 Gussie Edelman, at the time of her engagement, New York, 1891

Goerge and Gussie were married in New York on August 18, 1891. George’s father found life in New York too hectic and returned to Russia almost immediately. George and Gussie soon left for South Africa, George supposedly promising that they would stay there just one year, allowing time for him to wind up his business affairs, and then return to New York to allow Gussie to be near her family. (She left behind in New York her parents, Abraham and Esther, and brothers Harry, Sam, Joseph, and Selig, as well as a sister Ida). Once in South Africa, however, the business apparently dragged out, and some remember Gussie saying that she grew to like the slower-paced lifelstyle in Malmesbury. The arrival of children then complicated the picure. George and Gussie’s first child, their daughter Frances, was born December 8, 1892, followed by Isadore Alfred (always known as “I.A.”) in 1894, Rudolph in 1895, and Edward in 1897. (Murray was born later, in America) George seems have to enjoyed business in South Africa (and to have been quite sucessful), with the exception of one story he used to tell about a crooked employee named something like Brodsky, to whom George entrusted a large sum of cash for deposit in the bank at Cape Town. When the employee failed to retun to work, George sensed something was amiss, and rushed on horseback to Cape Town. He went to the bank to find no money and then to the harbor, only to find the faithless Brodsky waving at him from the deck of a ship that had just depated for London. George tried to trace the thief in London without success. George seems to have been a man of character who was frequently uncomprehending of dishonesty in others.

The first “Boer” war broke out in 1898, as the British attempted to assert their authority over the independent-minded Boer (Dutch-Afrikaaner) farmers of the interior. Henry left in 1898, moving to Boston, where Annie had cousins already settled. George stayed on for perhaps a year, but the tension between the Boers in rural areas and the Britsh in Cape Town made his business difficult. He and Gussie decided to leave in 1899, stopping first in London for about three months(where the four-year-old Rudolph supposedly disappeared for a short time in the crowds at the World’s Fair), and from there on to New York, where Gussie’s family was still living. They arrived in New York in about August, 1899. Their fifth and last child, Murray, was after arrival in New York, on June 15, 1900. According to Frances, the two gentlemen at the far left of the 1898 picture were Boer business partners of George, to whom he turned over his remaining warehouse and trading business. She remembered George saying that the two gentlemen visited George in New York in 1902, having become extremely wealthy from the business left behind. George did not enjoy New York. He used to say later in life that he could never get used to the style of business in New York. He was accustomed to selling goods on credit in South Africa, with only a verbal promise to pay from the Boer farmers. He later said that he lost a “fortune” in his short stay in New York, from doing business with people who failed to stand by their word. George soon learned that America was a place that required written contracts. After a little less than two years, George decided in 1902 to move to Boston, where Henry and Annie had already settled. George and Gussie and the children moved into the house at 22 Gaston Street in Roxbury on the south side of Boston. It seems that George’s first business in Boston consisted of importing ostrich feathers. His first business stationery listed ostrich feathers under his name, and in 1903 he received a long letter from his brother-in-law Sam Edelman in Cape Town, written when Sam was working for him in business, describing Sam’s problems with locating ostrich feathers of good quality. At the same time, there is reason to think that he made real estate mortgage loans, and real estate financing was later substituted on his business stationery. (NOTE: Sam Edelman wrote another letter to Frances’ daughter Anne in 1929 from Johannesberg. If anyone knows where Sam Edelman ultimately settled, the information would be greatly appreciated.) George’s set up his offices at 18 Tremont Street, in the same building as Henry. They were soon joined by Henry’s son Reuben after his graduation from law school in 1904. Although George and Henry remained personally close, it seems that in Boston they ran their businesses mostly independently of each other. George may have had a greater enthusiasm for the buying and selling of tangible merchandise (or, as time went on, real estate). Perhaps their difference in temperament is revealed by the fact that three of Henry’s sons (Reuben, Sol, and Sammy) became lawyers, while all of George’s sons when into manufacturing businesses. In approximately 1910, George and Guissie and the children moved to the more spacious house at 61 Charlotte Street. George must have soon after acquired a camera, as the first “amateur” (i.e. non-studio) family photgraphs in taken in great number are apparently the ones dated 1912 (in handwriting on the negatives), and show Frances and the boys enjoying George’s new touring car, while horse-drawn cariages on the streets can still be seen in the backgound, and showing the whole family spending the summer at the beach (probably Cape Cod) withe George and Gussie’s close friends, the Lourie’s. [history unfinished]