Stanford University The Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute
Labor Mediator and Abitrator, Theodore W. Kheel, dies at 96
November 22, 2010

Arguably one of the most well known and successful labor mediators and arbitrators of the 1950s and 1960s, Theodore W. Kheel, died Friday, 12 November 2010.

Theodore Woodrow Kheel, named after Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, was born May 9, 1914 in Brooklyn, N.Y. to parents Sam Kheel and Kate Herzenstein.  He attended DeWitt Clinton High School, he then graduated from Cornell University in 1935 and two years later graduated from its law school.  The day after passing the New York Bar Exam he married Ann Sustein. 

In 1938 he joined the legal team of the National Labor Relations Board and for the next 10 years Kheel worked in various government jobs related to Labor.  He went into private practice in 1948 and began settling disputes between private transit companies and the Transit Workers Union.  He was appointed by New York Mayor Richard J. Wagner as arbitor for the citywide transit authority in 1956.  Over the next 30 years Kheel would make decisions on an average of 1,000 cases each year.   Called on by mayors and presidents alike to help prevent or end strikes, Theodore Kheel established a reputation of being "the most influential peacemaker in New York City". Kheel was known for his ability to negiotitate contracts between even the most bitter opponents. Most notably, Kheel helped end the 114 day New York newspaper strike in 1962-1963 and President Lyndon Johnson called on his services a year later to help prevent a nation wide rail strike.

As well as investor, entreprenuer, author, lawyer, and public servant, Theodore Kheel established himself as a philanthropist by heading the Gandhi Society for Human Rights.  Created in 1962, by Harry Wachtel, Clarence Jones, and Kheel, the mission of the Gandhi Society was to provide legal defense for civil rights cases, educational materials propagating nonviolent methods and voter registration activities, and financial assistance for civil rights projects to organizations, such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

In his later years Kheel turned his attention to environmental activism establishing Earth Pledge and Nuture Nature Foundation.

He is survived by his six children, eleven grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

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