Monday, February 24, 1997
Robert Westheimer, civic leader

''My strength is the ability to work with people, to get them to get along.''

- Robert Westheimer, on being selected a Great Living Cincinnatian by the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce in 1995.

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Mr. Westheimer
He left a legacy of caring about people, communities and business. For almost a century, Robert Westheimer, director emeritus of Cincinnati Financial Corporation, provided a cohesiveness that brought all levels of the community together.

Mr. Westheimer died of lung cancer early Sunday at University Hospital. He was 80.

''At age 80, he was still increasing his participation in volunteer community work,'' said his son, Richard Westheimer of Batavia.

Richard Westheimer said his father's spirit of social service was like a partnership with his mother, Ruth W. Welling Westheimer of Hyde Park.

''That spirit was shared and passed on to his children around the dinner table,'' Richard Westheimer said.

The Westheimer legacy predates Richard and even Robert Westheimer. Irvin Westheimer, Robert Westheimer's father, started it when he befriended a poor kid downtown scrounging for food in the garbage in 1903.

That gesture of altruism led to the formation of Big Brothers-Big Sisters program in the United States.

Robert Westheimer adopted the philosophy of his father and projected it into the Big Brothers-Big Sisters Program, Boys & Girls Clubs, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and the United Appeal.

He was a strong influence in such organizations as the Cincinnati Chapter of the American Jewish Committee. He served on the national executive board and was past director of that group. He was a past chairman of the local Governmental Affairs Committee of the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, and the governing board of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.

Less than two weeks ago, Mr. Westheimer interrupted his vacation and came to Cincinnati to preside over a grant review meeting of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, said Paul Sittenfeld, a member of the board.

''Even though he was ill, he presided over a very complicated meeting,'' Mr. Sittenfeld said. ''This was characteristic of how he lived and how he cared for his community.''

Terry Grundy, director of Community Initiatives at United Way & Community Chest, who worked with Mr. Westheimer on many civic projects, said Mr. Westheimer was a gentleman in the deepest and truest sense of the word.

''By breeding and by personal effort he had all the elements,'' Mr. Grundy said. ''He had devotion to his remarkable family and a kindliness toward people in every station of life ... To me, he was a friend, civic ally, mentor and second father.''

Carolyn McCoy, retired executive director of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, said the Cincinnati community was blessed to have had the services of Mr. Westheimer.

''When we were struggling with community social problems, he brought wisdom to the table to guide us,'' Mrs. McCoy said.

Mr. Westheimer was a graduate of Walnut Hills High School and a 1938 graduate of Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.

He was an account executive and partner of Westheimer and Co. a vice president of Hayden Stone Inc., and served as vice president of Harrison & Co. and Prudential-Bache Securities.

At his death, he was a principal owner at Westheimer Enterprises, downtown; chairman of the board of trustees at ChoiceCare; chairman of the board of directors at Cintech Tele-Management Co.; and chairman of the board at Richwood Pharmaceutical Co.

In addition to his son Richard, he is survived by his wife, Ruth W. Welling Westheimer; two daughters, Ann Williams, Hyde Park, and Sallie Westheimer, East Walnut Hills; a brother, Charles Westheimer, Mount Adams; and nine grandchildren.

Arrangements are incomplete. For time of service, call the Weil Funeral Home, 281-0178.

Memorials may be sent to the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Suite 200, 300 W. Fourth St., 45202.