Chamber honors 4 city standouts

The Cincinnati Enquirer

M.J. Klyn, William Friedlander and John Ruthven.
(Steven M. Herppich photo)

| ZOOM |
Perseverance is a trait common to the newest batch of Great Living Cincinnatians.

Former state senator William F. Bowen, Bartlett & Co. director William Friedlander, former University of Cincinnati vice president M.J. Klyn and artist John Ruthven are the latest to be honored by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce as Great Living Cincinnatians.

“Their love for the community, their work for others, their unselfishness, that is what stands out,” said John Williams, chamber president.

William F. Bowen
The chamber has handed out its Great Living Cincinnatian awards annually since 1967. This year's winners join 81 previous recipients.

Recipients are chosen by the chamber's senior council, based on community service, business and civic attainment, awareness of the needs of others, and accomplishments that brought favorable attention to their community, institution and organization.

The four will be honored at the chamber's Annual Business Dinner Feb. 19 at the Hyatt Regency Cincinnati.

Along with their community service and business acumen, they will be noted for persevering. Ms. Klyn, in particular, said she was thrown into a do-or-die situation when she was divorced 40 years ago at age 34 and left to raise three school-age chil dren.

“And back then,” she said, “nobody got divorced. I was forced to work hard and be successful.”

Ms. Klyn (the M.J stands for Mary Jeanne) grew up in northern Illinois and attended Northwestern University near Chicago. She was successful in banking, retailing and advertising businesses in Cleveland before being named the University of Cincinnati's first female vice president in 1975.

Her main job was lobbying the state legislature for money. In her 23 years at UC, she not only brought the university into the state system, but also procured more than $2 billion for capital projects.

Among her major accomplishments was raising money for the Shoemaker Center and the Barrett Cancer Center and the designation of the UC College of Engineering as one of 10 NASA Federal Research Centers.

Friends say she was successful because she treated everyone like family.

“I just love people,” she said. “It's all a personal, family relationship with me. Their family was my family. I didn't just go to them because I needed money. Even today, after retirement, I talk to them.”

Ms. Klyn, 74, who lives downtown, has served on the board of the Greater Cincinnati Convention & Visitors Bureau for more than 20 years, earning the first Spirit of Cincinnati Chairman's Award. She has also received the Movers and Shakers Award from Women in Communications.

Mr. Ruthven is another profile in persistence.

“I was a Depression child, and my family didn't have anything but a lot of love,” he said. “I learned if you are going to succeed, you have to have perseverance. Artists are a dime a dozen. Every kid can draw. But to succeed, you have to stick with it.”

Mr. Ruthven, 73, grew up in Walnut Hills and graduated from Withrow High School in 1943. He served a stint in the Navy during World War II and, upon returning, attended the Cincinnati Art Academy and graduated in 1947. He opened a commercial art studio.

“Art has always been a passion of mine, and I was able to dovetail it with my love for the outdoors,” he said.

His big break came in 1960, when his “Redhead Ducks” won the prestigious Federal Duck Stamp competition. His work went on display across the country.

In 1971, he founded Wildlife Internationale Inc. to produce his limited-edition lithographs. In 1972, he was named Ducks Unlimited's First Artist; First Ohio Duck Stamp Print Artist in 1982; Trout Unlimited Artist of the Year in 1984; First Ohio Animal Stamp/Print in 1988; and Ducks Unlimited's Pacific Flyway Artist in 1989.

Mr. Ruthven has a “Bald Eagle” painting on display at the White House, and was commissioned by former Gov. James Rhodes to do “Eagle to the Moon” to commemorate the achievements of astronaut Neil Armstrong.

His work has raised millions of dollars for charity. One painting alone raised more than $3 million for the preservation of ducks.

For decades, he has created art to benefit local organizations, such as WCET, the Fine Arts Fund, the Cincinnati Zoo, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Natural History Museum.

“He's a real pro in his profession, but continues to focus on this community and his love for it,” said Mr. Williams, chamber president.

Mr. Ruthven and his wife, Judy, have a 165-acre farm near Georgetown in Brown County and a residence on Mount Adams.

William Friedlander, 66, has persevered for 41 years in the highly stressful investment business.

“I've always said, "Don't do it unless you are pretty certain it's going to be fun, and all the rest just falls into place,” he said.

Mr. Friedlander is a native Cincinnatian and 1950 graduate of Walnut Hills High School. He graduated from Amherst College in 1954, served two years in the Army and spent one year at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

“I went for a year, but then I had to go to work and make some money,” he said.

He started at Bartlett & Co., eventually rising to the position of chairman. He's been in charge for 22 years.

“When everything is going right, you always have something in the back of your head saying, "the roller coaster is coming to the top and on its way down,'” he said. “You know it's coming, you just don't know when.”

Mr. Friedlander is known around the city for raising money. He served 14 years on the boards of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Jewish Hospital. During his service at the foundation, assets grew from $40 million to $140 million.

He and his wife, Susan, co-chaired the Second Century Fund campaign for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 1995 to 1997 and raised $37 million, thought to be the largest amount ever raised for an arts organization in Greater Cincinnati.

Mr. Bowen's perseverance began at birth. For an African-American before the civil rights movement, life was not always fair.

Yet, he became a leader of all people.

“I've worked with people of all colors and on all levels,” he said. “I didn't always say the things I thought they wanted to hear. I told them what I thought was right and truthful.”

Mr. Bowen, 69, grew up in the West End and is a 1947 graduate of Woodward High School. His political career began in 1964, and he eventually spent 28 years in the Ohio legislature.

He ran 10 political races, and lost three. Again, he did not stop.

“I've just been a people person all my life and put the opportunity to do good and help people above my own good,” he said.

An example: he attended Xavier University, but left before graduating.

“I spent my time fighting the battles,” he said. “I worked full time at fighting for civil rights.”

Mr. Bowen helped to pass numerous significant laws while in office, served many organizations and received many notable honors. But he will always be known as a good friend of his hometown.

“He was always a go-to person when we had an economic project we needed state help for,” said Mr. Williams. “We could always count on him.”

Past winners
Winners of the Great Living Cincinnatian Award:
• 1967: Charles Sawyer, John J. Emery, Dr. Albert B. Sabin
• 1968: G. Carlton Hill, Neil H. McElroy, Harold R. LeBlond, Sr.
• 1969: Frederick V. Geier, Fred Lazarus Jr.
• 1970: William A. Mitchell, J. Ralph Corbett, William H. Zimmer
• 1971: Joseph B. Hall, Mark Upson
• 1972: Dr. Walter C. Langsam, Stanley M. Rowe, Sr.
• 1973: Irvin F. Westheimer, Rev. Paul O'Connor
• 1974: Willis D. Gradison, Sr., William L. McGrath, John T. Murphy
• 1975: Louis Nippert, Fletcher E. Nyce, Murray Seasongood
• 1976: Marion R. Becker, John R. Bullock, Charles P. Taft
• 1977: Bishop Henry W. Hobson, Howard J. Morgens, William J. Whittaker
• 1978: Jacob E. Davis, Walter L. Lingle, Jr., Willam C. Safford
• 1979: Frederick A. Hauck, The Rev. Wilber A. Page
• 1980: William E. Anderson, Philip O. Geier, Jr., Frank H. Mayfield, M.D.
• 1981: Eslie Asbury, M.D., T. Spencer Shore
• 1982: Edward G. Harness, Ralph Lazarus
• 1983: William A. Altemeier, M.D., William N. Liggett
• 1984: Theodore M. Berry, Richard T. Dugan
• 1985: William S. Rowe
• 1986: Neil A. Armstrong, John L. Strubbe
• 1987: Ruth Lyons, Charles M. Barrett, M.D.
• 1988: William D. Atteberry, Owen B. Butler
• 1989: Lawrence C. Haskins, Joseph S. Stern, Jr.
• 1990: Paul W. Christensen, Jr., Daniel J. Ransohoff, George Rieveschl, Jr.
• 1991: Nelson Schwab, Jr., David J. Joseph, Jr., Sanford M. Brooks
• 1992: Frances Jones Poetker, Henry W. Hobson, Jr., Dean P. Fite
• 1993: Virgina J. Coffey, Helen I. Glueck, M.D., West Shell, Jr.
• 1994: Clement L. Buenger, Patricia A. Corbett, Carl H. Lindner
• 1995: Joseph A. Hall, Louise D. Nippert, William J. Williams
• 1996: James A.D. Geier, Sister Jean Patrice Harrington, Robert Westheimer
• 1997: Nathaniel R. Jones, John J. Schiff, Sr., John G. Smale
• 1998: Marjorie Hiatt, Eugene P. Ruehlmann, Marian A. Spencer
• 1999: William F. Bowen, William Friedlander, M.J. Klyn and John Ruthven 

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