Roger Williams Straus (1891-1957)
Roger Williams Straus (1891-1957) was involved in charitable endeavors like his parents, Oscar S. and Sarah Lavanburg Straus, and his in-laws, Daniel and Florence Guggenheim, who set such a good example. He was president of the Fred L. Lavanburg Foundation, which concerned itself with the building of model homes for the underprivileged. He was also a trustee on the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation which gave fellowships to artists and scholars abroad.
Roger Williams Straus was one of the founders in 1928 of the National Conference of Christians and Jews. This organization’s mission is to fight bigotry, racism and bias through conflict resolution, advocacy and education. The national conference was set up as an outgrowth of “a violent brand of bigotry” in the 1928 presidential campaign. Roger served along with co-chairs Newton D. Baker, a Protestant, and Professor Carleton J. H. Hayes, a Catholic. In 1929 he proclaimed: “It is now in your hands in the new, less dramatic, but equally difficult warfare, that of the spirit and intellect, to combat the corrosive, brutal theory of materialism, and thereby to serve again our religion, our country and humanity.”
He was co-chair of many conferences held at the new Williamstown Institute of Human Relations. The program of the institute was under the auspices of director Dr. Everett R. Clinchy.
In 1939, Gladys Guggenheim Straus (1895-1980), Roger’s wife, representing New York City, attended this conference whose central theme was “Citizenship and Religion: A Consideration of American Policy with Regard to the Relations of Church and Synagogue to the State.” Roger spoke about the “need for strengthening the moral and spiritual values of the nation’s people as a means for saving democracy in a world fraught with antagonism and false standards.”
“Roger Williams Straus and Gladys Guggenheim Straus” Straus Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 12 No. 2 (New York: February 2011); pp. 1-6.
Source: The Straus Historical Society