Sol Myron Linowitz, diplomat, lawyer & businessman, Died at 91

Sol Myron Linowitz died on March 18, 2005 at the age of 91, he was an American diplomat, lawyer, and businessman born in Trenton, NJ.

Born December 7, 1913, he planned to go to college, but the Great Depression struck and curtailed his father’s business greatly, nearly shutting it down.

Linowitz was granted scholarship assistance and set up a part-time job, however, and he was able to enroll at Hamilton College, a liberal arts institution in upstate New York, where he graduated in 1935 as salutatorian of his class.

Linowitz graduated first in his class from Trenton Central High School, recalled his brother Robert Linowes, a prominent Washington area zoning and land-use lawyer.

(As adults, Mr. Linowitz’s three brothers changed their spelling of the family name.) Despite the Depression, he was able to go to Hamilton College in Upstate New York thanks to scholarships and part-time jobs that included waiting tables, selling newspapers and tutoring.

One of only two Jews in his Hamilton class, he sold Christmas cards to supplement his income.

In Rochester, Linowitz met Joseph C. Wilson, a businessman who ran a multimillion-dollar photographic supplies company, which survived in the heavy shadow of Eastman Kodak.

Wilson had recently come across the process of electrophotography, and he asked Linowitz to help him draw up a licensing agreement so his company could begin using it.

In 1959, the company created the first copy machine for the commercial market and later became Xerox, with Linowitz as vice president and general counsel (he served as chairman of the board from 1960 to 1966).

In 1977, Linowitz found himself back in government employ when President Carter assigned him the task of negotiating the Panama Canal Treaties.

This was followed soon after by Carter naming him special ambassador to the Middle East, where Linowitz negotiated peace treaties with the Palestinians.

He served in the government as a lawyer in the Office of Price Administration during World War II, but he was first lured to a senior policy post by President Johnson who made him the United States representative to the Organization of American States, the international organization that was the principal conclave for Washington to deal with Latin America.

His autobiography, “The Making of a Public Man” (Little Brown, 1985), recounted several anecdotes of President Johnson at his cajoling and bullying best.

He noted that when Mr. Johnson obliquely criticized him in front of several cabinet members early in his tenure, he sought a private conversation in which he told the president that he would resign if that happened again.

In addition, he was a violinist; one accomplished enough to make solo appearances from age 11 and to play in the violin section of the Utica Symphony. He also fronted for an Atlantic City dance band during the summer.