When Joseph Rosenblatt speaks, people listen.
Rosenblatt is regarded as one of Utah's most respected citizens, a gracious gentleman and concerned friend. When a civic crisis arises, members of the community often turn to Rosenblatt for his analysis - for a concise, courageously framed perspective, for a way to resolve an issue with dignity.He's been recognized as a scholarly businessman, a valued member of dozens of prominent public and private boards and a crucial supporter of various community causes for decades.
Now, Utahns can add "modern pioneer" to Rosenblatt's string of accolades.
Saturday, Geneva Steel will present Rosenblatt with its second Modern Pioneer Award at a dinner at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. The award recognizes Utahns who've made significant contributions to the state, symbolize its pioneer heritage and serve as role models for other Utahns.
That criteria and Rosenblatt are a perfect fit.
"He is a genuine, earnest person who cares about Utah," said Joseph A. Cannon, president of Geneva Steel. "He is a person who has been successful but has given back to the community an awful lot."
Rosenblatt bears the title of modern pioneer with pride but also with humility.
"A pioneer can't have only a sense of right, of demanding what he thinks is right," he said. "A prime obligation is to recognize responsibility - what it means to be a free citizen in a community like this."
Rosenblatt's sense of civic duty and responsibility spring from his father, Nathan Rosenblatt. Nathan Rosenblatt emigrated alone to America from Russia at the age of 13 in 1880. Nathan Rosenblatt's father sent him to America to escape the anti-Jewish pogrom under way in Russia at the time, advising him to "keep looking until you find a place you feel will give you freedom, no hatred," Joseph Rosenblatt said.
Nathan Rosenblatt found his way to Salt Lake City and "found here with the Mormons just what he hoped to find - that there was, above all else, opportunity and total religious tolerance."
Nathan Rosenblatt founded three manufacturing firms, including Eimco Corporation. Joseph Rosenblatt took over Eimco from his father after graduating from the University of Utah in 1926.
He built the firm into the world's largest manufacturer of underground rock mining machinery. He also expanded the company's markets, producing equipment for such areas as chemistry, metallurgy, food production, paper pulp processing, pharmacology and water and waste treatment.
The secret to his business success? He says it was hiring people better than himself, making his employees feel what they did was important to society and having the discipline to do what was hard.
He retired from Eimco in 1963, although he frequently stops by the plant to visit. "I'm like an old horse answering a fire alarm," he said.
Rosenblatt vowed at his retirement to "spend whatever days, whatever I had left serving the needs of the city and state as best I could."
He has lived up to that commitment.
Rosenblatt served as a member or founder of dozens of community boards including the Holy Cross Hospital Board of Trustees, the Utah State University Board of Trustees, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the National Advisory Committee of the University of Utah, the Industrial Relations Council of Salt Lake City and the Intermountain Regional Medical Advisory Committee.
Hospitals especially have benefited from Rosenblatt's support.
"I was fascinated by the process by which a hospital puts itself together and serves the needs of the same people in a community," he said.
Rosenblatt - now 87 - is "trying to be careful to not take on things I can't do as well as I'd like to do." He is still vitally interested in his state and his city, and his views are widely sought - his phone rings often.
Nathan Rosenblatt was known as "the boy who made good." Like the father, so is the son, although Joseph Rosenblatt's tribute may be "the man who made Utah good."