Askanase, Reuben W. (1908–1991)

By: Merilee Weiner

Type: Biography

Published: November 1, 1994

Updated: May 11, 2016

Reuben W. Askanase, businessman, the son of immigrant parents, was born in Fargo, North Dakota, in 1908 and as a boy began his career selling newspapers. Early in life he helped take care of his family by assisting his mother in their chuck wagon. To earn a living, they followed the migrant workers, cooking and serving them meals on their jobs or boarding them in their home.

Askanase, who worked his way through North Dakota State University, later gifted the school with the Askanase Hall and scholarships. He rose from office boy to the vice presidency of the New York department store, Abraham and Strauss, before moving to Houston in 1945. His success in Houston began with the Columbia Dry Goods store and was furthered when he invested in the purchase of the manufacture of Evenflo baby bottles. He and his partners built the company into Dunhill International, which owned Spaulding sporting goods, along with other properties. He served as chairman of the board.

Askanase was active in the Houston Council on Human Relations, the Houston Symphony, and the Alley Theatre. He also served as president of the Houston Sports Association and the Jewish Community Center, chairman of the United Jewish Campaign, trustee of the Rothko Chapel and North Dakota State University, and board member of Allied Mercantile Bank and Benjamin Franklin Savings Association. He received the Max H. Nathan Award from the American Jewish Committee in 1964. He raised funds for Citizens for Good Schools and the Houston Area Women's Center and was a member and trustee of Congregation Beth Israel.

Reuben Askanase married Hilda Graham, and they had a son and a daughter. Askanase died on January 3, 1991. He was survived by his wife, his children and their spouses, a sister, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Houston Post, January 5, 1991. Ruthe Winegarten and Cathy Schechter, Deep in the Heart: The Lives and Legends of Texas Jews (Austin: Eakin Press, 1990).

  • Peoples
  • Jews
  • Business
  • Activism and Social Reform
  • Civic Leaders
  • Patrons, Collectors, and Philanthropists
Time Periods:
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Merilee Weiner, “Askanase, Reuben W.,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 25, 2022,

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November 1, 1994
May 11, 2016

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