Louis Berkman was born in Canton, Ohio, in 1909, son of Sarah and Hyman Berkman. In 1935, he married Sandra Weiss of Pittsburgh, Pa., who passed away in 1983. The Berkmans were the parents of two children, Marshall (who perished in the crash of US Air Flight 427 in Pittsburgh in 1994) and Donna, who is married to Robert A. Paul, president and chief executive officer of Ampco-Pittsburgh Corp., located in Pittsburgh. Mr. Berkman is the grandfather of six and the great-grandfather of nine. He was married to Jane Goldberg of Pittsburgh in 1986, who died in 1998. He then married the former Ruth Suttin of Pittsburgh in 2001.
Mr. Berkman started in business in the late 1920s in the scrap iron and steel industry. In 1931, he incorporated The Louis Berkman Company in Steubenville, Ohio. The Louis Berkman Co. consists of many diversified companies including Meyer Products Inc., Swenson Spreader Co., Follansbee Steel, Scott Lumber Co. and Industrial Supplies Co. The Louis Berkman Co. also is the principal shareholder of the Ampco-Pittsburgh Corp.
Berkman was instrumental in the fundraising for St. John Medical Center, now known as Trinity Medical Center West, and St. John Arena in Steubenville. He made personal contributions to secure the Toronto site for the titanium plant now known as TIMET, which was a significant factor in the location of the industry in Toronto, Ohio. Berkman presented a deed for the underlying coal rights on 28.4 acres of land southwest of Toronto so that a new school could be built on the site. The deed was conveyed for "one dollar and love." He also was instrumental in the rebuilding of the Steubenville Country Club after it was destroyed by fire in the early 1960s, and he donated the land on Lovers Lane in Steubenville for Temple Beth Israel.
A recipient of numerous awards throughout his lifetime, he received the coveted Caritas Medal from the Diocese of Steubenville in 1963 for his distinguished and meritorious contributions. In 1965, he was conferred the title of Grand Official Merit of the Italian Republic at the request of the Prime Minister of Rome, Italy. In 1975, he received an honorary doctorate in business science from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. In 1985, he was presented the "President's Award" from Franciscan University as well.
Through the Louis and Sandra Berkman Foundation, Berkman has established the ÒH.L. Berkman Faculty and Staff Dining Room" and the "Sandra Weiss Berkman Studio for Ceramic Arts" at Bethany College in Bethany, W.Va. The Foundation also made possible the "Learning Resource Center" and "The Louis Berkman Fireside Lounge" in the J.C. Williams Center at Franciscan University of Steubenville.
Again through the Foundation, in 1986 Berkman established the Louis Berkman Professor of Economics Scholarship" at Harvard University, and in 1998 the Foundation established the "Louis Berkman Scholarship Fund" at both the Franciscan University of Steubenville and Bethany College. In the same year, the "Louis Berkman Scholarship" was established at Cornell University in New York.
Mr. Berkman is a member of the Steubenville Rotary, Elks Club, Steubenville Country Club, Westmoreland Country Club, Williams Country Club, Pittsburgh Athletic Club, Duquesne Club, Concordia Club, Pittsburgh Symphony Society, Oglebay Institute, Temple Beth Israel in Steubenville and Rodof Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh.