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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:                                       THOMAS ASHER

INTERVIEWER:                                  SANDRA BERMAN

LOCATION:                                        ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                                                 MAY 10, 2005

                                                            MAY 11, 2005

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Thomas Asher was born in 1936 in Atlanta, Georgia, to Joseph Asher and Helen Elsas Asher.  His great grandfather was Jacob Elsas, the founder of Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills.  Jacob Elsas was also one of the founders of Georgia Institute of Technology, Grady Hospital, and the Temple. The Elsas family was originally from Germany.  Thomas’ mother and father were both born in Georgia.  His parents began working at Rich’s Department Store in the 1920s.  His father was a buyer for menswear and his mother a lamp buyer.  Thomas grew up in the Druid Hills area of Atlanta.  He has one brother, Norman Asher.

The Asher family were members of the Temple, a Reform congregation.  Thomas attended Sunday school at the Temple but was not confirmed. Thomas graduated from Cornell University in 1958.  After college, Thomas entered the United States Army.  When he returned to Atlanta in 1959, he entered the investment business.  He worked at Robinson Humphrey, Inc., for 25 years before going to Smith Barney, where he remained for over 46 years.  He retired as senior advisor in 1999.   

Thomas married Rosalie Spring Savitt in 1959.  She was from Hartford, Connecticut.  They have three children, Joey, Juliet, and Hugh and several grandchildren.

SCOPE OF INTERVIEW

Thomas Asher talks about growing up in Atlanta.  He describes the history of the Jewish community and recalls various historical events in Atlanta's past.  He discusses his great grandfather’s business, the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills.  Thomas mentions his great grandfather was one of the founders of Georgia Institute of Technology, Grady Hospital, and the Temple.   

Thomas talks about his mother and his father who worked at Rich’s Department Store.  Thomas tells that his family were members of the Temple.  He talks about attending Sunday school at the Temple.  He relates that the family did not celebrate Jewish holidays.  Thomas remembers Rabbi David Marx and growing up with his daughters.  He remembers Rabbi Jacob Rothschild from the Temple and going to his adult education classes.  Thomas mentions he was active at the Temple as a member of the board as well as various other organizations. 

Thomas talks about his childhood and college years.  He mentions attending Mary Lin Elementary School and Marist School in downtown Atlanta and remembers riding the trolley to school with friends.    Thomas describes his boyhood friends, who were all German Jewish children.  He recalls traveling to Maine for summer vacations to German Jewish camps for children.

He talks about attending Cornell University and remembers with fondness his classmates and the wonderful education he received.  He remembers learning of the Leo Frank murder trial while away at university.  Thomas talks about being in the United States Army and the Army Reserves.  He discusses his lifelong career as a stockbroker and recalls many exciting opportunities and wonderful memories of people he worked with.  He remembers the wonderful business mentors he had when starting in the business and attributes his success to them.  He talks about his wife, Rosalie Spring Savitt, and their three children and grandchildren. 

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