Jeremiah Milbank (1887 - 1972) was a man of remarkable accomplishments as a businessman, financier, and philanthropist. Milbank led efforts to eradicate diptheria and organized the International Committee for the Study of Infantile Paralysis in 1928. Because of Milbank's active interest in a cure for polio, President Franklin Roosevelt asked him to chair the organization that was the forerunner of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis. Milbank also began America's first comprehensive institute for people with disabilities. This institute, ICD - International Center for the Disabled, is still a national leader in rehabilitation services.
One of Milbank's guiding principles was to strike at the roots of illness before it took hold. He understood the similarities between illness in the physical sense, which could disable or kill, and illness in the social sense, which deprived children from disadvantaged backgrounds of a fair chance in life.
A lifelong believer in volunteerism, Jeremiah Milbank helped President Herbert Hoover develop the Boys & Girls Club national organization that provides support services for Clubs serving disadvantaged youth. He served as treasurer of the national organization for more than 25 years.
Throughout his lifetime, Milbank gave a fortune to help those in need. Yet he never sought monuments or memorials. He believed that wealth not used to help others was wealth wasted. One instrument of that belief is The JM Foundation, which continues the ideals of free enterprise and entrepreneurship that guided Milbank's own philanthropy. Since its founding in 1924, the foundation has provided more than one hundred million in today's dollars to foster self-sufficiency, personal responsibility and private initiative.
Jeremiah Milbank was a humble man who inspired greatness in others. His truest legacy has been his children, and their children, who continue to support causes that were close to his heart. His son, Jeremiah Milbank Jr., was recruited by President Herbert Hoover to join the Board of Governors for the national organization where he became a guiding force in shaping the Boys & Girls Club Movement. In turn, Jeremiah Jr. passed on his passion for serving youth to his own children. Today, Jeremiah Milbank III serves on the national Board of Governors.
Jeremiah Milbank gave of himself generously. His extraordinary and life-long concern for youth and those less fortunate has changed the lives of millions and is the inspiration for The Jeremiah Milbank Society.