Old Ned

Arizona Historymakers™

Arizona Historical Society

Newton Rosenzweig

1905 - 2002

Honored as Historymaker 1999

Business and Civic Leader

Oral History Transcript:

Video directed and written by Chris Wooley. Director of photography: Wayne Dickmann. Produced by the Historical League. Narrated by Pat McMahon. Made possible by a financial grant from Dr. Edward B. Diethrich. MP4 tape conversion made possible by Londen Family of KAZTV.

Newton Rosenzweig was born in Phoenix in 1905 to Austrian immigrant parents. He joined his father’s business, Rosenzweig Jewelers, in 1927. Upon returning from World War II to the booming city of Phoenix, he and his brother, Harry, took over the family business in 1945.

A serious man, Mr. Rosenzweig found his philosophy in a sermon that stated, “In life you are either part of the problem or part of the solution.” Resolving to be part of the solution, he quietly became involved in community service, including writing some two hundred letters to the editor of the newspaper, commenting and suggesting solutions to problems. Finding and faciliating solutions was to remain his compelling interest.

In 1949, Newton Rosenzweig became a founder of the Phoenix Charter Government Committee, a group of successful men and women whose purpose was to clean up Phoenix politics and hire a professional city manager. Serving on this committee for thirty years, Mr. Rosenzweig helped identify respected candidates for office. An astute civic leader himself, he was elected to serve on the Phoenix City Council.

In 1956, Newton Rosenzweig married Betty Dabney, and together they have been committed to solving community needs. They have given unselfishly to many worthy organizations, including the Foundation for Blind Children and funding scholarships at Arizona State University. Seeing a need at the Phoenix Memorial Hospital for outpatient surgery to help low-income families, the Rosenzweigs generously donated an ambulatory surgery unit.

In the 1960s, Mr. Rosenzweig became influential in the planning of the Civic Center to revitalize downtown Phoenix. Serving as president of the Civic Plaza Building Corporation, he remained active for twenty-five years. He was also instrumental in Arizona's change from electing judges to appointing them based on merit, an approach known as the Missouri Plan. He was a co-founder of both the Arizona Community Foundation and the Phoenix Arts Council, as well as a member of the Phoenix Forty, a group of influential businessmen who helped guide the growth of the city. An unassuming man with a calm, intelligent manner, Newton Rosenzweig served on forty-nine different boards and was president of many, including St. Luke's Medical Center, Temple Beth Israel, and the Phoenix Jewish Community Council.

As the culmination of their professional lives, Newton and his brother, Harry,  developed the Rosenzweig Center, now Phoenix City Square. A vital addition to the midtown, it brought the Greyhound Corporation (later Dial, then Viad)  - and lucrative taxes - to the city. To honor their sister, Newton and Harry Rosenzweig funded the Anna Rosenzweig Awards to recognize volunteers.

The recipient of innumerable honors, including the American Jewish Human Relations Award, the Arizona Brotherhood Award and the Medal of Honor from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, Newton Rosenzweig was also named both Big Brother of the Year and Phoenix Man of the Year. Arizona State University bestowed a Doctor of Humane Letters degree upon him. Arizona has been truly blessed by this honorable and humble man, who so capably filled his unique position of influence during our state's years of unprecedented growth.