December 17, 2009
Floyd Segel, a businessman, philanthropist, self-made scholar and life-long learner, died as he had lived, courageously, at his Aspen Glen home on Monday, Dec. 14. He was 84.
Born in Milwaukee, Wis., on Nov. 12, 1925, Segel enlisted in the Army Air Corps when he turned 18, at the height of World War II. Returning home after the war, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a business degree. He soon joined his family’s meat-packing business, which was his life’s career. He became well known and honored in his industry and was chairman of the board of the American Meat Institute.
Segel also served as an advisor to U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture Orville Freeman, Clifford Hardin and Earl Butz, spanning Democratic and Republican administrations from the early 1960s well into the 1970s.
Although his career was important to him, his participation in his community, both in the arts and in philanthropy, played a major role in his life. Floyd Segel always felt a need to contribute and, throughout his life, he did what he could, when he could.
His work in Milwaukee was reflected is his positions on the boards of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Milwaukee Jewish Federations, the Milwaukee Jewish Home for the Aged and the Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee. Although much of his philanthropy was focused on Jewish institutions, he also helped a group of Milwaukee nuns start a school for inner-city children.
As his philanthropic efforts expanded, Segel eventually held positions on the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and on the board of the American Friends of Hebrew University.
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Spending time in Palm Beach, Fla., he was the president of the city’s Norton Museum of Art and was a founding member of the Palm Beach Photographic Center.
After moving to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1997, Segel served on the board of the Aspen Camp of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Neither his business career nor his philanthropic work defined Floyd Segel, however, since he was an avid and wide-ranging collector who built world-class collections of jade, “netsuke” (miniature Japanese sculpture), Chinese porcelain, English and French furniture, and photographs. In every instance, he did not simply collect, he educated himself deeply in his field of interest, becoming a virtual scholar.
His interest in photography, for instance, led not just to his efforts to found the Palm Beach Photographic Center, but also to his own photographic work, which was widely exhibited. He eventually donated 450 photographs from his collection – work by some of the great photographers of the twentieth century – to the Milwaukee Art Museum.
And yet, beyond all this, Floyd Segel was a dedicated family man. He was happily married for 40 years to his first wife, Josephine. Following her death, he married again, to Dorothy Segel, and they remained happily married for 22 years.
In addition to his wife, Dorothy, he is survived by his brother, Sheldon Segel (and wife, Beverly); sons Justin Segel (and wife, Holly) and Robert Segel (and wife, Penny); and daughters Sherri Dulberger (and husband, Alan), Penny Casey (and husband, Patrick) and Carolee Weinstein (and husband, Steven). He is also survived by 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.