Samuel N. Regenstrief


Honorary Degree (1970)
Doctor of Laws
IU Hospital Dedication Ceremony
Location: Indianapolis
Presenter: Joseph Sutton


Samuel Nathan Regenstrief, who was born in Vienna, came to the United States with his parents at the age of 9 shortly after World War I. The Austrian immigrant eventually founded one of the world's largest dishwashing machine companies and became a millionaire-philanthropist.

As a young man he worked for Real Silk Company in production and later in cost accounting. After becoming a certified public accountant, he tried to help save the financially troubled Rex Manufacturing Company in Connersville, receiving stock in lieu of fees. Later, the company was taken over by the Philco Corporation.

Discouraged at the outlook for Philco, he looked for another opportunity and bought American Kitchens, a small company about to be closed. In 1959 he established the Design and Manufacturing Corporation, starting with about 100 employees, in Connersville, and won a contract to produce dishwashers for Sears, Roebuck & Company, to be sold under the Sears Kenmore brand name. Mr. Regenstrief also manufactured dishwashers that were sold under other brand names, such as Admiral and Norge. By the mid-1970's his company employed 2,000 workers and produced about 30 percent of the world's dishwashers.

Eventually, the company was sold to WCI of Columbus, Ohio, a unit of the former conglomerate White Consolidated Industries, which had been acquired in 1986 by the Swedish-owned company, Electrolux, another well-known home appliance name. .

Mr. Regenstrief made a practice of donating money to improve health care. Through the Regenstrief Foundation he helped form a research institute at the Indiana University Medical Center, and in 1975 the Wishard Memorial Hospital, in Indianapolis, opened the Regenstrief Health Center financed in part by a $2 million gift.