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In Memoriam: Philip Rauch '33

Philip Rauch '33 (left) standing with William L. Clayton '51 at the groundbreaking for the Rauch Business Center on April 17, 1989.

Philip Rauch '33, the former president of a clamp manufacturing company who was one of Lehigh’s most loyal and generous supporters, passed away on Nov. 8, 2006 at his home in East Setauket, N.Y. He was 95.

Rauch was a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and earned varsity letters in both football and wrestling during his time at Lehigh. Rauch, who studied business administration, truly appreciated that his Lehigh experience challenged both his mind and his body and showed that appreciation by being the benefactor of both the Rauch Field House and the Rauch Business Center.

“Phil felt his experiences as a student-athlete at Lehigh in the early 1930s provided a strong foundation for his subsequent career in business and various civic activities,” said Dick Barsness, who served as dean of the College of Business and Economics from 1978 to 1992 and had extensive contact with Phil Rauch throughout that period. “He believed deeply in the importance of fundamental skills in education and as an alumnus he provided sound advice and very generous financial support to help Lehigh strengthen both its educational facilities and programs.”

The Rauch Field House, located on Goodman Campus, was dedicated in 1974 and bears his name. This venue is home to Lehigh’s track and field team and has served in the past as the home to Lehigh men’s and women’s tennis teams.

A firm believer that the ability to communicate orally and in writing is essential for business executives, Rauch established a chair in business communications at Lehigh and led to the establishment of the Rauch Center for Business Communications in 1981. Rauch’s philanthropic partnership with Murray H. Goodman ’48 in 1988 enabled the university to relocate its College of Business and Economics, and concurrently relocate football to the Goodman Campus. Rauch’s $5 million leadership gift played a key role in construction of the Rauch Business Center, completed in 1990 at a cost of $18 million.

“At the time, in my role as dean I stated, ‘The Rauch Business Center will have a fundamental impact on the College for decades to come,’’ said Barsness of the CBE, which ranked No. 18 by BusinessWeek last spring. “This has certainly proved to be the case.”

Ironically, Kristen Miller ’05, Rauch’s grand-niece, followed in her grand-uncle’s footsteps as a business student (marketing major) and varsity athlete (field hockey), taking many classes in the building that bears his name. Her parents, Ed and Janet Miller P'05, served on the parents committee while Kristen was in school here (Janet Miller is Phil's niece), during which time they made a contribution in Phil's honor to help establish the Financial Services Laboratory in Rauch Business Center.

“One of Lehigh’s giants”

Rauch was president of the Ideal Corporation, a Brooklyn company founded in 1913 by his father that manufactured stainless steel hose clamps for automobiles and aircraft. Rauch left Lehigh in 1932 when the early death of his father forced him to take over the family business. In 1939, Rauch earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at New York University and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws by Lehigh in 1979.

Witrh Rauch at the helm, Ideal merged with the Parker-Hannifin Corporation, a hydraulics manufacturer in Cleveland, in 1971. Rauch was a board member of Parker-Hannifin from 1971 to 1987 and its chairman from 1975 to 1977.

“He was highly successful in business as the CEO and Chairman of Parker-Hannifin. As important, he realized the importance of giving and he did so in a forthright way when he perceived that Lehigh had a compelling need,” explains former Lehigh Chairman of the Board Ron Ulrich ’66. “No one had to lobby Phil extensively. Aside from the visible gifts he made, he made other donations of his money and time that were important to the history of the university. He wanted to make a difference and he did. He has truly been one of Lehigh’s giants. He was incredibly respected and will be deeply missed.”

While an undergraduate at Lehigh, Rauch was a member of the Lehigh wrestling team in 1930 and 1931, and he played football in 1932. For his efforts on the grappling mat, Rauch received the Lewis Cup, which is awarded to the most outstanding wrestler during his freshman year.

An enthusiastic fan, Rauch credited his wrestling experience for his professional success. “Wrestling probably did more for me than anything else at Lehigh," he aid. "You put two men of equal size on a mat, you go at it, and may the better man win. It makes you a real competitor and builds confidence.”

“Phil Rauch was one of the icons in Lehigh's history, and his mark on Lehigh is indelible. He had a deep appreciation for education, for sports, for music, and for serving others,” said Joe Sterrett '76, the Murray H. Goodman Dean of Athletics at Lehigh. "His love of Lehigh and his generosity helped to transform this institution in ways that we shall be forever grateful."

In addition, he established a scholarship in 1991 to attract talented wrestlers to Lehigh and to demonstrate a great affinity for both the sport and the institution, while prior to the 1999-00 wrestling season, Rauch and John Harmon ’59 provided gifts to Lehigh which endowed the assistant wrestling coaching position. For their leadership and generosity, this position will be named in perpetuity, the “Harmon-Rauch Assistant Coach of Wrestling.”

In 1999, Rauch was elected into the Lehigh Athletics Hall of Fame and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame as an “Outstanding American.” Rauch was also awarded the L-in-Life Award by the Lehigh Club of New York and the Alumni Award.

Rauch's generosity wasn't only felt by Lehigh. In 1961, Rauch and his brother Louis started the Rauch Foundation, in Garden City, N.Y. Its primary mission is to provide counseling and educational support for at-risk families with young children. It also supports the Long Island Index, an annual report on education, government, housing and the economy. The foundation's endowment is $42 million, and it makes grants totaling about $2 million a year to more than 30 organizations.

Rauch was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 25, 1911. His wife, the former Louise Fairchild, died in 1987. He is survived by a daughter, Patricia McIrvin of Greensboro, N.C.; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

--Bill Doherty

Posted on Tuesday, November 14, 2006

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