Milton Gralla, Brandeis benefactor, dies at 84

He and his wife supported scholarships and fellowships

Milton Gralla with students in the Genesis program he supported.

Brandeis Fellow Milton Gralla, P ’75, G ’06, G ’07, whose generous support of the university ranged from student scholarships to a pioneering fellowship program that helped professional journalists better understand the Jewish world, died on July 11 in Teaneck, New Jersey. He was 84 and a resident of Boca Raton, Florida.

Gralla and his wife, Shirley, supported a number of important initiatives at Brandeis, including the Gralla Fellows Program for journalists, the Genesis program for high school students, the Summer Institute for Israel Studies and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. The Grallas also funded the Gralla Media Room, which allows leading Brandeis faculty to conduct television interviews from campus.

“Milton Gralla not only helped Brandeis and our students through scholarship support, he played a key role in creating programs at the university that enriched the lives of Jews and others around the world,” said Nancy Winship, P ’10, P ’12, senior vice president of institutional advancement. “We will miss his wisdom, energy and commitment.”

The Gralla Fellows Program, which the Grallas established in 1998, brought early- and mid-career journalists from around the world to Brandeis for a week of lectures, workshops and discussions designed to deepen their understanding of Judaism and contemporary Jewish life. 

“A highlight of the program was Milton’s own session, where he shared a lifetime of wisdom from his own journalistic career with the young journalists,” said Gralla Fellows Program Director Jonathan Sarna ’75, MA ’75, the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis. “A whole generation of journalists understands the Jewish community better because of Milton Gralla’s vision and generosity.”

A native of New York who majored in English and journalism at City College of New York, Gralla launched his journalism career as a sports freelancer for the New York Times. He later worked for the Tulsa World.

In 1955, Gralla and his brother Larry pooled $5,000 of their savings and launched a trade magazine, Kitchen Business. The brothers eventually grew Gralla Publications into a 22-magazine powerhouse in retail, merchandising and travel. Titles included Professional Furniture Merchant and National Jeweler. The company also organized trade shows. In 1983, the Grallas sold the company to United Newspapers and shared the proceeds with their staff.

In addition to Brandeis, Gralla supported a number of organizations in the United States, Israel and the former Soviet Union. He served on the boards of Boys Town Jerusalem, Yeshiva University, UJA-Federation of New York, World ORT, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the Jewish Week newspaper and the Solomon Schechter School of Bergen County (N.J.). He was chair of the 1994 Salute to Israel parade in New York and sponsored, along with his wife, the “Freedom Flight” of 250 Russian Jewish immigrants to a new homeland in Israel.

Gralla and Adriane Berg co-authored “How Good Guys Grow Rich,” which explained his guiding philosophy of life: living to enrich others without seeking rewards would bring financial rewards and personal satisfaction.

He received the Ellis Island Medal, which recognizes first- and second-generation Americans who have made distinguished contributions to U.S. society.

He leaves his wife of 62 years, Shirley, a fellow of Brandeis; three children, Karen Gralla Galinko ’75, Edward and Dennis; and six grandchildren, including Daniel Galinko ’06 and Matthew Galinko ’07.

Gifts in his memory may be made to Brandeis University, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, P.O. Box 549110, MS 126, Waltham, MA 02454-9110 or online.

Categories: Alumni, General

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