The Cornell community mourns the death of Sol M. Linowitz J.D. ’38, a distinguished lawyer, businessman and diplomat.
Linowitz, who graduated top his class at Cornell Law School and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor awarded to civilians, from President Clinton in 1998, passed away on March 18, at the age of 91 in his Washington D.C. home.
Linowitz was a distinguished lawyer and “a public servant and businessman of the highest order,” said Stewart J. Schwab, the Allan R. Tessler Dean and Professor of Law.
He played a prominent role in international relations. Among his most remarkable achievements were his involvement in the negotiation of the Panama Canal Treaty during the Johnson administration, his role in the Middle East Peace Negotiations as President Jimmy Carter’s Ambassador-at-Large and his position as chair of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger.
As a successful businessman, Linowitz was a member of the firm known as Harris, Beach, Keating, Wilcox, Dale and Linowitz and also helped with the launching of the Xerox Corporation where he would become chairman of the board. He was an honorary chair of the Academy for Educational Development and until 1993 he was senior counsel to Coudert Brothers, an international law firm. During his career he was also a director of Time Inc., Pan Am and the Mutual Life Insurance Company of New York.
“What I came to appreciate was that these achievements were the direct result of his character,” said President Jeffrey S. Lehman ’77.
As a Cornellian he is a trustee emeritus of the Cornell Board of Trustees and was a Presidential Councillor serving in various trustee committees. He was also a member of the University Council, the University’s Campaign Advisory Council and the Major Gifts Committee.
In 1991 he delivered the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Address at Reunion – one of Cornell’s most prestigious lectures.
He was also prominently involved with the law school where he is an emeritus member of the Law School Advisory Council and former president of the Law School Association.
“He certainly is one of our most distinguished and illustrious graduates,” Schwab said.
Linowitz had two major publications; he was the author of The Making of a Public Man: A Memoir (1985) and the co-author (with Martin Mayer) of The Betrayed Profession: Lawyering at the End of the Twentieth Century (1994) in which he criticized the decline of the legal profession and suggested that lawyers should be more inclined to serving the public interest.
However, Linowitz will be especially remembered for his devotion to public service. As he himself said in a speech to the law school in 1998, “Being a real lawyer involves knowing how to work with those you must serve.”
“He in many ways embodied the ideal of an attorney,” Lehman said.
He will be missed by his wife Evelyn “Toni” Zimmerman, his four daughters, eight grandchildren and all of his colleagues.
“All of us were enormously proud that he was a Cornellian,” Lehman said after attending his memorial service which took place March 29 in Washington D.C.
Linowitz’s citation on the Presidential Medal of Freedom read: “Even as he has succeeded in law and business, Sol Linowitz has never forgotten the needs of others … In a series of high-level diplomatic assignments, he made lasting contributions to the pursuit of world peace. With a keen mind, a warm heart, and a generous spirit, Sol Linowitz has enriched the lives of millions around the world.”
Archived article by Ana Li-Carrillo