The Shalvi/Hyman Encyclopedia of Jewish Women

Features thousands of biographic and thematic essays on Jewish women around the world. Learn more

Helen DeRoy

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Helen DeRoy until we are able to commission a full entry.

Photo of Helen DeRoy, courtesy of the Jewish Historical Society of Michigan.

Helen Lowentritt DeRoy’s business savvy in the auto industry was matched only by her generosity as a philanthropist through the worst years of the Depression. The daughter of an oil baron, Helen married Aaron DeRoy, who was making his own fortune selling electric and gasoline-powered cars; he eventually opened a number of Studebaker dealerships in Pennsylvania and later in Michigan. The couple helped fund the creation of the Detroit Zoo and gave generously to Jewish causes, but when the Depression hit, they used their remaining wealth to help the poor. Helen DeRoy worked as a director of the Fresh Air Society and funded the creation of Tamarack Camps, offering days in the country to working mothers and their children. After Aaron’s sudden death in 1935, Helen took over his automotive business, running it successfully for several years before selling it in the 1940s so she could focus her attention on her philanthropy. Among her many projects, she built an auditorium and student housing at Wayne State University, funded a pool and gymnasium at the Detroit JCC, and endowed scholarships at a number of universities.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Helen DeRoy." (Viewed on September 18, 2021) <https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/deroy-helen>.

Donate

Help us elevate the voices of Jewish women.

donate now

Get JWA in your inbox