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Celebrating the leadership, vision, tenacity, and love of community shared by the recipients of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award, presented annually by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber since 1967.
Jack Schiff learned early in his career that community involvement makes smart business sense, and even smarter businesspeople.
Before serving in World War II, he joined the Cincinnati Junior Chamber of Commerce. “It had a dramatic influence on me,” Schiff recalled. “I was fortunate to learn the importance of community involvement.”
A native Cincinnatian, Schiff graduated from Ohio State University in 1938. He then served as assistant logistics officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and was discharged a lieutenant commander.
“One of the things you learn in the Navy, whether you like it or not, is to take orders,” Schiff said. “The more we observe disciplines, the more we are successful.”
Schiff first entered the insurance business with Travelers in 1938. He established his own independent insurance agency later that year. In 1950, he and three other insurance agents established The Cincinnati Insurance Co. From a small beginning of 18 agents and $200,000 in capital, the company has grown today to assets of more than $4 billion and premium volume in excess of $1 billion annually.
Schiff said he has never found time to slow down. “I think everyone involved in community activities has a feeling, most of the time, of wanting to wind down,” he said. “Everyone who says they want to wind down never accomplishes it because they’re active, and they continue to take on new activities.”
His hometown was special to Schiff. “Most Cincinnati businesspeople are more conscious of their community than those in other cities,” he said. “I think our people are more compassionate.”
Recipients are selected from candidates by the Cincinnati Chamber’s senior council based on the following criteria: – Community service – Business and civic attainment on a local, state and national or international level – Leadership – Awareness of the needs of others – Distinctive accomplishments that have brought favorable attention to their community, institution or organization