Martin A. Janis                     Inducted 1984 - Class of 1931

Martin A. Janis, who was graduated from Woodward High School in 1931, reached the heights in the business world, established himself as one of Toledo’s most active community leaders, and recently retired from yet another career--in public service.

Mr. Janis attended the University of Toledo and during the years 1935-40 taught accounting in the Opportunity School Division of UT. At the age of 25 he joined the Kuehmann Foods, Inc., one of the nation's largest potato chip firms, as comptroller. Eight years later, in 1946, after a three-year hitch with the navy as lieutenant in the contracts section in Washington, he was named president of Kuehmann and its affiliate operations. Active in the National Potato Chip Institute almost from its inception, he was elected its president in 1951. Despite his relatively young age, he was considered a pioneer in the industry and was credited with introducing many automatic sanitary procedures in the manufacture of potato chips.

 

Involved in the community life of Toledo, from 1935 to 1963, Mr. Janis has served as president of the Toledo Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, and the Toledo Convention Bureau, and as vice president of the Toledo Chamber of Commerce. He was general campaign chairman for the Community Chest in 1957 and president of the Community Chest Board in 1958.He has served on numerous boards; in one of his major interests, the Toledo Zoo, he has been a member of the Toledo Zoological Society board since 1944and served as its president for II years, from 1952 to 1963.

Mr. Janis was considered a political phenomenon when, in 1960, in his first venture into politics, he was elected to the Ohio Legislature, leading a field of veteran candidates for state representative. He has described himself politically as a Jeffersonian Republican and has been described, by a union official, as "the best Democrat the Republicans ever had."

What may be his greatest accomplishments (only a few can be listed here) were achieved by Mr. Janis during 16 years as a member of the cabinet of Gov. James Rhodes, first as director of the Ohio Department of Mental Hygiene and Corrections, the state's largest single department, from 1963 through 1970, and then as director of the Ohio Commission on Aging, 1975-83.

As mental hygiene director, he led in the establishment of two Golden Age Villages--in Toledo and Columbus--that are unique in that they provide for personal care services as well as housing. The Golden Age Villages were recognized by the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging as model facilities for low-income elderly, and all other states were urged to use Ohio as a model for any further construction.

In 1965 Mr. Janis had established the Division of Administration on Aging within the Mental Hygiene Department. The division continued as the state's agency on aging until November,1973, when the Current Ohio Commission on Aging was created by the General Assembly, and Mr. Janis became its director in 1975. In that capacity he established a number of pioneering programs; possibly the best known is the Golden Buckeye Card program which provides price discounts to Ohioans 65 and older. In 1979 he was honored by the naming of the new $3-million senior citizen center at the Ohio State Fairgrounds as the Martin Janis Senior Citizen Center.

In January of 1977, Mr. Janis was appointed to the Advisory Council of the National Institute on Aging. In addition to heading Ohio's delegation to the1981 White House Conference on Aging, he was one of 14 persons from around the country chosen to be chairmen of workshops at that conference.

©2020 Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame

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