Hymen T. Milgrom never forgot that at a time when many universities had bans or quotas for Jewish students, the University of Chicago welcomed him and provided the opportunity for a quality education.
Milgrom, a public school graduate from Chicago whose parents had escaped the pogroms of Tsarist Russia, earned his AB in 1935, and went on to become a successful businessman in the field of health care. Before his death in 2011, he decided to leave $17 million to benefit the University and support its work to broaden educational opportunity.
“He was always grateful to the University of Chicago for accepting him,” said his daughter, Paxton Quigley. “The contribution is his overwhelming gratitude for the fine education he received.”
Milgrom did not have a scholarship to the university, so he held two jobs to pay his own way through school. Quigley said he had considered becoming a lawyer, but studied accounting instead.
He went on to found Hychex Products, later renamed Milex Products, above a hardware store on Irving Park Road. The business produced gynecological and obstetrical products, including a patented device, called the Pap smear for the cervical cancer screening still in use today. He also developed a thriving medical book publishing company, Budlong Press, which produced more than 10 titles, including A Doctor’s Guide to Pregnancy, which sold millions of copies.
He was a lifelong Chicagoan who loved the city, and raised his family in the North Side neighborhood of Budlong Woods. His wife, Lillian Ruth, also a native Chicagoan, was active in the League of Women Voters and the Independent Voters of Illinois. She passed away at age 93 in 2009. Both were socially conscious and active.
“These were people who believed that education and hard work were the ladder to success,” said Quigley. “And my dad always felt that the expectation was that because he was a Jew, he had to work harder and better than everyone else to get past some of the discrimination he had felt earlier in life.”
Both of the Milgroms’ children also have degrees from UChicago. Charles Milgrom received his SB degree in Biochemistry in 1967. He is now an orthopedic surgeon working and living in Jerusalem. Paxton Quigley, AM'65, is a well-known author of books about women’s empowerment for personal safety. She earned her degree in anthropology.