Class of 1948
Milton Gralla was the older half of a City College brother team that built a trade magazine empire. Together with his brother Larry, he launched Gralla Publications, an enterprise that became one of the country’s largest privately owned publishers of trade magazines and operators of trade shows, business meetings and conferences. Gralla was also passionately involved with philanthropic causes in the United States, Israel and the former Soviet Union, with a particular interest in helping journalists reach a better understanding of the Jewish world.
He was born in Brooklyn on Jan. 28, 1928 and attended Boys High School. While a student at the College, he was sports editor of The Campus and a stringer for The New York Times, covering sports. Like many other New Yorkers at the time who aspired to a career in journalism, Gralla started out of town, signing on as a reporter at the Tulsa World in Oklahoma. Before long he was back east, freelancing sports articles. In 1951, he and Larry formed a fledgling venture called Nationwide Trade News Service, offering publishers in Chicago and New York access to articles written by local reporters at a going rate of 2 cents a word.
|Campaigning against casinos, 1976.|
In 1955, with $5,000 from their joint savings, Milton and Larry launched Gralla Publications and began cultivating their own stable of trade magazines. The first was Kitchen Business. It came along when home remodeling was an emerging business and was that industry’s first trade journal. Other trade magazines followed, covering everything from bank systems to health care systems and from jewelry to sporting goods. What helped distinguish Gralla’s magazines from most other trade publications was their style: They were written by journalists, not by people whose background was in the business that was being covered.
In 1983, Gralla Publications was sold to United Newspapers of London for $44 million. At the time, Gralla published 15 national business and trade magazines, operated eight national and international business and trade shows annually, and had 340 employees. Gralla stayed on as a consultant for several years. Eventually, Gralla Publications produced more than 20 magazines. In 1985, United acquired Miller Freeman, which merged with Gralla in 1991.
Milton Gralla entered politics as a New Jersey Independent in 1974 on the heels of the Watergate scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. He ran an anti-corruption campaign in a bid for a House seat, but lost. He also campaigned unsuccessfully against the 1976 referendum that brought casino gambling to New Jersey. In his later years, Gralla often spoke to senior groups on how to avoid scams, and in 1995 was co-author of “How Good Guys Grow Rich: Proven Strategies to Achieve Financial Success and Lifelong Satisfaction.”
Gralla’s own success was something he shared generously. At Brandeis University, he and his wife, Shirley, launched the Gralla Fellows Program in 1998. It brought journalists from around the world to Brandeis for lectures and workshops designed to deepen their understanding of Judaism and contemporary Jewish life. In 1990, he
|Gralla in Moscow, 1990.|
headed an American delegation to Moscow, helping to draw up a long-term program for the revival of Judaism in the Soviet Union. He and his wife also sponsored “Freedom Flight,” bringing 250 Jews from Russia to Israel; supported opening a Jewish school in Odessa; and contributed to campaigns that gave new life to existing Jewish schools throughout the former Soviet Union. He was on the boards of The Jewish Week and of JTA, a global Jewish news service.
He was a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal, given to first- and second- generation Americans who have made distinguished contributions to U.S. society.
Gralla died on July 11, 2012. He was 84.