Remembering Charles Adler

COMMENTARY Conservatism

Remembering Charles Adler

Apr 2, 2019 2 min read

Former Assistant to the President for Donor Relations

Travis Shirkman served as assistant to the president for Donor Relations.
Charles’ family made it to Harlem, where they lived with relatives and shared just one bedroom. They found work the only way they knew how, by making German chocolates. Andrew_Howe/Getty Images

As a member of the Donor Relations team at Heritage, I get the distinct honor of working with our members in the Northeast, forming relationships with some of our nation's greatest patriots who selflessly support the work and mission of The Heritage Foundation.

On the evening of March 19, with Fox News playing in the background, Charles Adler passed away. Charles became a member of Heritage in 1986 and his 91 years on this earth exemplified the “American Dream” in many ways, beginning somewhat unconventional compared to most American success stories.

Originally born in Germany to a Jewish family, Charles saw first hand how the Nazi party rose to power and devastated Germany, including burning down the chocolate factory where Adler’s parents had worked.

During World War I his father was a soldier in the German army who was eventually captured by the Russians and sent to a POW camp in Siberia. Charles’ father escaped the camp shortly after being captured. He worked in a local factory canning food until the Soviet Revolution was over and he was able to return back to Germany.

The family fled from Germany to America to escape the Nazi’s when Charles was only 11 years old. In the middle of the night they crossed the Dutch border and were taken in by a family friend who owned a local inn.

Fortunately, Charles’ aunt was able to sponsor his family immigrating to America, which was not the case for many Jews stuck in Germany during Nazi control. After three weeks of hiding, Charles, his sisters, and parents boarded a ship for New York City. They had just three suitcases and were unable to speak English.

Charles’ family made it to Harlem, where they lived with relatives and shared just one bedroom. They found work the only way they knew how, by making German chocolates and candies. Charles was designated the family salesman, selling bags of their sweet treats after school and on weekends for $0.15 per bag throughout New York City.

By age 17 Charles enlisted in the United States Navy to fight in World War II. He served in the South Pacific, fighting in the key battles of Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Soon after the war ended in 1945, Charles went back to his family roots to find work and ended up creating candy and chocolate geared towards diabetics and completely sugar-free. This sweet revolutionary idea launched the Estee Foods Company paving the way for sugar-free candy in America.

Throughout the 1950's and 1960's Charles built his company upward finding the sugar-free candy business very prosperous. Charles was able to retire after selling his business in the 1970's back to a German chocolate company--go figure!

In his retirement his passion for sports led to many business opportunities including opening a racquetball club in New Jersey that is still in operation today.

During the few times Charles and I spent together, watching Fox News and chatting about Heritage's policy work, there was no doubt that he had a tremendous love for his country. I'm sure as an 11-year-old boy fleeing the Holocaust there was no way to know what uncertainties lie ahead, but his life was an example of the freedoms that America provides to those who seek.

Charles would have been 92 years old in May and leaves behind three children: Cary, Alan, Melody, and four grandchildren. He also leaves a legacy that will be honored at Heritage and by anyone who still believes and work towards the American dream. Rest in peace, Mr. Adler and thank you for your service to our great nation and loyalty to conservative principles, policy, and ideals.

Charles Adler Charles H. Adler 1927-2019

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