(Jan. 21, 1870 – Nov. 3, 1946). Gustave Efroymson was a businessman, philanthropist, and champion for justice who was active in Jewish, business, and civic life in Indianapolis for more than 40 years. Born in Evansville, his parents moved to Indianapolis when he was two. From his start as a clerk in a dry goods store, he became president of the department store, H. P. Wasson and Co., which he co-owned with his brother Meyer, his brother-in-law Louis P. Wolf, and his nephew, Walter E. Wolf. Efroymson sold his interest in Wasson’s in 1930.

Efroymson purchased Real Silk Hosiery Mills in 1932 and owned it until his death in 1946 when ownership transferred to his son Robert. Gustave’s other son, Clarence, was a professor of economics at Butler University.

A leader in the Jewish community, Efroymson served as Indianapolis Hebrew congregation president (1902-1905) and as president of the Jewish Federation for 23 years (1905-1913 and 1919-1934). Under his leadership, the Federation transformed from a charitable society meeting individual needs to become the primary agency for the Indianapolis Jewish Community.

In the 1920s, Efroymson helped to organize Jewish, Catholic, and African American leaders to drive the Ku Klux Klan from Indianapolis. He signed affidavits for Jews in Germany to flee Nazi persecution in the 1930s and come to America.

Active in the local business community, Efroymson was treasurer and director of Citizens Gas & Coke Utility, which he helped to transfer to city ownership in 1935. He also organized and served as president of the Indianapolis Public Welfare Loan Association, which protected small borrowers from loan shark practices.

Efroymson also made significant contributions to Indianapolis philanthropy. In 1916, he helped establish the Indianapolis Foundation, one of the earliest community foundations in the United States, and served on its board from 1919-1946. He also served as president of the William E. English Foundation. Both foundations became part of the Central Indiana Community Foundation upon its creation in 1998.

Revised July 2021

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