Lerman, Louis Edward, 1894-
Louis Edward Lerman was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on August 4, 1894, the son of Wolfe S. and Fanny N. (Jacobson) Lerman. After brief stints working for the railroad in New York and Ohio, and as a cowboy in Oklahoma, Lerman moved to St. Paul, Minnesota, in 1916 and in the same year married Bertha Helen Licher of St. Paul. The couple had three children.
Blacklisted for joining the union when he worked for the Delaware and Hudson Railroad in New York, Lerman had trouble finding and keeping jobs in the railroad industry. He began a new career as a postal clerk in St. Paul, a job in which he stayed over 34 years, retiring in 1950. During these years Lerman helped organize the first postal clerks union in St. Paul and was elected secretary and legislative chairman. He also helped organize a postal clerks' credit union and was responsible for training over 400 new clerks in the postal laws and regulations.
Lerman was one of the founders of Group Health Mutual, founded in 1939 to provide health insurance to workers. Inspired by a 1954 trip to Israel, Lerman went on to incorporate the Group Health Medical Plan, modeled after the Israeli system of pre-paid medical care he had seen on his trip. Lerman became secretary of the plan, a position he held until 1969.
Lerman's work for Group Health was far from the only thing occupying his post-retirement years. In 1955, five years after retiring from the Post Office, Lerman began a second career as executive director of the Jewish Labor Committee, a subcommittee of the Minnesota Jewish Community Relations Council. His primary responsibility was in the area of community relations with various labor organizations throughout the state. Major projects included the annual Labor Institute on Human Relations and work in the Indian community, where he was involved with several programs designed to encourage Indian youth to complete their high school education, go on to further education in colleges and trade schools, and get jobs. In recognition of his contribution to the welfare of the Indian community, Lerman was officially adopted into the Ojibwe tribe in May 1962, and was the first non-Indian ever to be presented the Lone Eagle Feather, the Ojibwe "Medal of Honor." Lerman finally retired from the Jewish Labor Committee in 1974, at the age of 80.
Louis Lerman died in St. Paul in June of 1978. Additional biographical information is available in the collection.
From the guide to the Louis Lerman papers, 1917-1978 (bulk 1955-1974)., (Minnesota Historical Society)
|creatorOf||Lerman, Louis Edward, 1894-. Louis E. Lerman papers, 1917-1978 (bulk 1955-1974).||Minnesota Historical Society Library|
|creatorOf||Louis Lerman papers, 1917-1978 (bulk 1955-1974).||Minnesota Historical Society|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Indians of North America--Employment|
|Israel--Arab Border Conflicts, 1949-|
|Indian youth--North America|
|Indians of North America--Employment--Minnesota|