Helen DeRoy

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.


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

Date of Birth

Oil City, PA
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Helen DeRoy." (Viewed on June 17, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/deroy-helen>.


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