Carl H. Lindner was an internationally recognized businessman and philanthropist. His professional achievements and long-time relationship with the University of Cincinnati were exemplary.
Mr. Lindner began his career with his father, brothers Richard and Robert, and sister Dorothy, when they founded United Dairy Farmers in 1940 as a single storefront selling dairy products. The family’s first day sales amounted to $8.28. Their sales grew due to marketing the triple-dip ice cream cone for 5 cents. Today UDF is owned and operated by the Robert Lindner family.
Mr. Lindner was the founder and chairman of the board of the $25 billion American Financial Group, Inc., a diversified financial holding company principally engaged in property and casualty insurance and the sale of retirement annuities and supplemental insurance. In addition to being a member of the Boards of Directors of the various subsidiaries of American Financial Group, Mr. Lindner was a partner of the Cincinnati Reds.
The Lindner family has a long history of partnering with the University of Cincinnati. The UC Carl H. Lindner College of Business is housed in Carl H. Lindner Hall, and in 1985 the college established the Carl H. Lindner Award for Outstanding Business Achievement in his honor. In the fall of 1997, the UC Carl H. Lindner College of Business announced the naming of its new honors program the Carl H. Lindner Honors-PLUS program, which was funded by an endowment from Mr. Lindner.
Mr. Lindner, along with his wife and family, gave the largest donation in the history of the university with a $30 million gift to create the Craig and Frances Lindner Center of HOPE (Helping Other People Excel). This center is an innovative, free-standing mental health facility that provides state-of-the-science in- and out-patient care, utilizing the most advanced treatment options and diagnostic capabilities. The facility is jointly operated by UC Health and the Lindner Foundation and staffed by UC Health physicians.
Through a 2004 gift from Mr. Lindner, the UC Medical Center was able to secure new surgical research robots, facilitate the return to Cincinnati of a pioneer in robotic cardiac surgery and continue to develop the vision for the Center for Surgical Innovation.
In 2003, Mr. Lindner and his two brothers, Richard and Robert, also donated $10.2 million to create the Richard E. Lindner Varsity Village and the Richard E. Lindner Athletic Center, which opened in 2006. On February 19, 2010, Mr. Lindner was inducted into the Order of the Black Blazer, in recognition for his contributions and support of UC Athletics.
Additional activities included Mr. Lindner’s memberships in the Alfalfa Club of Washington, D.C.; the National Republican Senatorial Trust; the Republican Regents; the University of Cincinnati Carl H. Lindner College of Business Advisory Council; the Commercial Club of Cincinnati; the Board of Trustees of the Cincinnati Fine Arts Institute; the Board of Overseers of the Cincinnati Symphony and the Citizens for a Better Cincinnati. He has also served for a number of years as Finance Chairman of the Kenwood Baptist Church and on the Board of Directors of the Drake Planetarium. Mr. Lindner also served on the Founding Board of Directors for the Kennedy Center and worked in restoring Ford’s Theatre, which he continued to support throughout his life.
Mr. Lindner was awarded the Golden Plate Award by the American Academy of Achievement in 1978. He was a 33rd degree Mason and a recipient of the Van Rensselaer Medal. Only 14 people worldwide have been given this prestigious award. In 1998, Mr. Lindner was the recipient of the Gourgas Medal, the most distinguished honor conferred by the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite awarded “in recognition of notably distinguished service in the cause of Freemasonry, country or humanity.” In May of 1999, Mr. Lindner received the Good of the Rite Award for services rendered in Interfraternal Masonic Relationship between Prince Hall Affiliation and the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction. The Rufus Putnam Award was bestowed on Mr. Lindner in September 2007 for his distinguished service to Freemasonry.
In 2004, the Development Corporation for Israel honored Mr. Lindner at their Tribute Dinner, citing his “lifetime of dedication to Israel’s vitality.” The Hebrew Union College awarded Mr. Lindner the Jewish Institute of Religion Interfaith Award in October 1989 and, in May 1995, he received the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters. In April 1995, the Jewish National Fund presented the International Peace Award (the highest international honor and award given by the Jewish National Fund) to Mr. Lindner. He was named Man of the Year of the United Jewish Appeal in 1978 and an Honoree in 1984, and was an honoree of the National Jewish Hospital in 1980. Mr. Lindner was the largest non-Jewish contributor to Jewish causes in the United States.
In 1985, the Friars Club presented Mr. Lindner with their Centennial Award. In 1992, in cooperation with the Cincinnati Historical Society, Mr. Lindner was inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Business Hall of Fame by the Junior Achievement of Greater Cincinnati and in 1997 was inducted into the Junior Achievement National Business Hall of Fame. The Great Living Cincinnatian award was presented to Mr. Lindner in February 1994 and in May of 1994 he was presented the Distinguished Service Citation by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. The Dan Beard Council, Boy Scouts of America, presented Mr. Lindner the 1995 Good Scout Award and, in February 1998, the National Council of Boy Scouts of America presented the “Silver Beaver” award to him. In 1997, Mr. Lindner was presented the “Heritage Award” by the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati and named a “Beacon of Light Humanitarian” by the Lighthouse Youth Services. In 2007, Mr. Lindner received the Templeton/Lindner award from the College Republican National Committee.
The degree of Doctor of Humane Laws was conferred upon Mr. Lindner by the Moscow Theological Seminary and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in May of 1999. Mr. Lindner also received an honorary doctorate from Judson College in 1983, the honorary degree of Doctor of Commercial Science from the University of Cincinnati in June of 1985 and the honorary degree of Doctor of Humanities from Xavier University in May of 1991. In 1991, Xavier University dedicated the Carl. H Lindner Family Physics Building, which completed their Science Center. Mr. Lindner was the recipient of the Lincoln Award presented by Northern Kentucky University in April 1993. Carl and Edyth Lindner are also major benefactors of Cincinnati Christian Hills Academy, a school founded by their family.
The Cincinnati Zoo is proud of their Carl H. Lindner Jr. Family Center for Reproduction of Endangered Wildlife as is the Cincinnati Museum Center of its Carl and Edyth Lindner Ice Age Exhibit, The Christ Hospital of the Carl and Edyth Lindner Center for Clinical Cardiovascular Research, the Scottish Rite of the Carl and Edyth Lindner Learning Center, Sawyer Point of its Carl Lindner Family Tennis Pavilion, Lunken Playfield of the Carl and Edyth Lindner Family Tennis Center, and the City of Norwood of Lindner Park.
Mr. Lindner and his wife Edyth have three sons, Carl III, Craig and Keith. He was a member of the Baptist Church for most of his life. Although Mr. Lindner passed away on October 17, 2011, at the age of 92, his legacy, impact and generosity live on.