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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           JOSEPH K. HEYMAN

INTERVIEWER:      RAY ANN KREMER

LOCATION:             ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                      FEBRUARY 11, 1992

                                 FEBRUARY 20, 1992

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Joseph Kohn Heyman was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1908, the son of Minna Simon Heyman and Arthur Heyman. He attended R. L. Hope Elementary School, and Fulton High School. He graduated from University of Georgia and received his Masters of Business Administration from Harvard Business School. He was an economist for Tri-Continental Corporation, a New York investment company, and served with the War Production Board in Atlanta during World War II. He operated his own investment firm before joining the Trust Company of Georgia. Notwithstanding two years during which he served as financial vice president of Rich’s Inc., he remained at the Trust Company of Georgia until his retirement in 1973. He was on the Board of Directors of Rich’s Inc. and a life trustee of the Rich Foundation. He volunteered primarily with civic organizations, including the Atlanta Parking Commission, Community Chest, Family Service Society, Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, Atlanta-Fulton County Joint City-County Advisory Commission, Atlanta Arts Alliance, Inc., and the Atlanta Economics Club. He was also a member of The Temple and the Standard Club. He and his wife Bertha “Bert” Schwabacher Heyman were the parents of three daughters: Leslie Heyman Zinman, Barbara Jo “BJ’ Heyman Yudelson, and Margaret Heyman Cohen.

Scope of Interview:

Joseph talks about his early childhood years from 1908 to 1913, when he lived in the Washington-Rawson neighborhood of Atlanta. He recalls nearby friends and neighbors: Dorothy Selig Joel, Oscar Strauss, and Rabbi David Marx. He mentions Jewish landmarks in the surrounding area: The Temple, the Standard Club, Ahavath Achim Synagogue, Congregation Shearith Israel. He says the Washington Avenue area was occupied almost entirely by Jewish families, primarily German Jews, and later, Eastern European Jews.

Joseph talks about his parents marrying in1996. He says his dad Arthur Heyman was an Atlanta attorney who grew up in West Point, Georgia. He tells about his father’s partnership with Hugh Dorsey who was the prosecuting attorney in the Leo Frank murder trial. He shares his memories of that time.

Joseph says his family moved away from Washington Street in 1913 to a home in what is now the Buckhead area of Atlanta, where there were few, if any, other Jewish families. He recalls attending the R. L. Hope School. He discusses continuing to attend The Temple on the Sabbath with his mother Minna Simon Heyman. He talks about attending Sunday School and his confirmation at The Temple. He mentions his Sunday School friends Oscar Strauss, David Greenfield, George Kohn, Sidney Goldin, and Bill Breman. He recalls forming the YAA club with his friends and playing against teams from the Hebrew Orphan’s Home and another Jewish team, the South Side Tigers.

He recalls attending Fulton County High School and attending Camp Dixie, a Christian camp, for three summers. He remembers his sister Dora Heyman Sterne attending Accomac, a Jewish camp in Maine.

He discusses attending college at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. He says he was a member of Phi Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity. He mentions another Jewish fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, and Sigma Delta Tau, a Jewish sorority. His college-age friends included Morris Hirsch, David Greenfield, Irving Samuels, Herbert Ringel, Jack Lissner, Edwin Haas, and Nathan Wood.

He talks about socializing with Alene Fox Uhry, Florette Visanska Rothschild, Dot Selig Joel, Arlene Freitag Frohsin, Carol Hess, Ernestine Hirsch, Kitty Spitz Guthman, and Peggy Hirsch Strauss. He recalls taking dancing lessons from Arthur Murray, who was then a student at Georgia Tech, first at the Standard Club, and later at Club De Vingt.

He mentions graduating from Harvard Business School. He recalls his career. He talks about his first job with an investment firm in New York City. He says he worked for the War Production Board (WPB) in Atlanta during World War II. He discusses starting a business consulting firm after World War II and his clients: Trust Company of Georgia, Rich’s, Retail Credit (now Equifax), First National Bank, and King & Spalding.

He tells about starting his career at Trust Company Bank and interrupting that for two years while he worked at Rich’s as its financial vice president. He discusses the history of Rich’s and its founding family, his acquaintance with Frank Neely, and his involvement on the Board of the Rich Foundation.

He explains his reasons for concentrating his volunteer activities in non-Jewish organizations rather than Jewish organizations. He maintains he experienced little antisemitism, yet he is aware of the policies of the Piedmont Driving Club and the Capitol City Club which both excluded Jewish members. He discusses his experience of being hired at Trust Company Bank when it had few, if any, Jewish employees. He remembers the Bombing of The Temple in 1958.

He discusses Atlanta’s history, growth, and its significance as a transportation hub. He mentions race relations in Atlanta during the 1960’s and the influence of Robert Woodruff on the city’s development. He talks about the 1962 plane crash at Orly airport in France and its role in the development of the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center. He talks about race relations and changes in Atlanta as a result in the demographic change to majority black.

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