Isidor Straus Biography

Isidor Straus, an American businessman and politician, was a co-owner of the renowned department store R. H. Macy and Company, along with his brother. Born into a Jewish family in Bavaria, he immigrated to the United States at a young age. Isidor and his brother eventually gained full ownership of the store, which became a thriving business. In addition to his successful business ventures, Isidor also served as a U.S. Congressman and was the president of ‘The Educational Alliance’, a prominent social institution. Despite being offered the position of Postmaster General by President Grover Cleveland, Isidor declined. Tragically, he and his wife Ida lost their lives at the age of 67 in the tragic sinking of the RMS Titanic.

Quick Facts

  • Died At Age: 67
  • Family: Spouse/Ex-: Rosalie Ida Blun (1871—1912), children: Clarence Elias Straus, Herbert Nathan Straus, Jesse I. Straus, Percy Seldon Straus
  • Born Country: Germany
  • Business People
  • Political Leaders
  • Died on: April 15, 1912
  • Place of death: Atlantic Ocean
  • Cause of Death: Drowning

Isidor Straus’ Career

Isidor Straus began his career working at L. Straus & Sons, a company established by his father. They expanded their business by opening outlets in major department stores in Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia. In 1888, Straus and his brother became partners with Macy’s and together they transformed it into the largest department store in the world. By 1896, they gained full ownership of R. H. Macy & Co. Additionally, the brothers controlled a Brooklyn department store for several years.

Involvement in Politics and Social Institutions

Straus had a close friendship with US President Grover Cleveland and actively supported his reelection in 1892. As a Democrat, he served as a US Congressman from January to March 1895, representing New York’s 15th congressional district. He also held the position of president at The Educational Alliance, an important social institution. Although President Cleveland offered him the role of Postmaster General, Straus declined. He also served as one of the directors of the Mutual Alliance Trust Company in New York.

Personal Life and Tragic Death

In 1871, Isidor Straus married Rosalie Ida Blun. They had a strong and devoted relationship, remaining together until their death in 1912. The couple had seven children.

Tragically, Isidor and his wife were passengers on the RMS Titanic when it struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912. Despite being offered a seat in a lifeboat, Isidor refused to leave as there were still others on board. His wife also chose to stay with him, stating that she wanted to die together with him just as they had lived together. The couple perished when the Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

Isidor’s body was recovered and buried in the Straus-Kohns Mausoleum. In 1928, it was moved to the Straus Mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx, New York. Unfortunately, Rosalie’s body was never found. Multiple memorials were erected in their adopted home of New York City.

The unwavering devotion between Isidor and Rosalie Straus until their tragic end has been depicted in various films, including the renowned 1997 Oscar-winning movie “Titanic” directed by James Cameron.

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