Siggi Wilzig, 76, a Holocaust survivor who arrived penniless in the United States and went on to run an oil company and a bank, died Tuesday in New York of multiple myeloma.
Born in West Prussia, Wilzig was sent to Auschwitz at the age of 16. In 1947, he immigrated to the U.S. and took a string of modest jobs, investing his meager savings in the stock market.
His investment in one stock, Wilshire Oil Co. of Texas, grew so large that in 1965 he was elected to the company's board. Six months later, at the age of 39, he was elected president and chief executive.
In 1969, he became a director of the Trust Co. of New Jersey, a bank in which Wilshire had a stake. Two years later, he became the chairman and president of the bank. Since then, the bank's assets have increased to more than $4 billion.
Wilzig was appointed to the Holocaust Memorial Council in Washington in 1980 and was a founding director and fellow of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. In 1998, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, which is given for serving humanity while honoring the heritage of ancestors.