A nationally prominent business and civic leader, Henry Lea Hillman was a quiet pioneer in private-equity investing and an imaginative, far-seeing philanthropist whose gifts have enhanced and strengthened Pittsburgh, his home, through its medical, educational, research, and arts institutions as well as its human and social services initiatives. At the time of his death, Mr. Hillman was Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of The Hillman Company, the business he transformed from its industrial-era origins in coal, coke, chemicals, iron, and river transportation into a broadly diversified global investment holding company headquartered in Pittsburgh and owned by the Hillman family.
Best known in Pittsburgh for his and his family’s extensive philanthropy, he developed and chaired the Board of Trustees of Hillman Family Foundations—the eighteen foundations associated with the Hillman family—and served as chair of the Henry L. Hillman Foundation, which he created in 1964, and the Hillman Foundation, started by his father in 1951. Active in philanthropy until he died, Mr. Hillman most recently made an $11 million gift to Carnegie Mellon University to endow the President’s Chair. That chairmanship was later named for him.
Mr. Hillman was the devoted husband of Elsie Hilliard Hillman (1925–2015), civic and political leader, philanthropist, and activist with a lifelong interest in Pittsburgh. Together, Mr. and Mrs. Hillman accrued 67 awards and 11 honorary degrees, tribute to the teamwork that characterized the couple during their 70-year marriage.