Robert M. Morgenthau


Robert M. Morgenthau July 31, 1919, to July 21, 2019

Beginning in 1963, Robert M. Morgenthau served as the President and then Chairman of the Police Athletic League. Mr. Morgenthau was appointed United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and again in 1963, and re-appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. He served as Manhattan District Attorney from 1975 until he retired from public office in 2009. At the time of his death, he was Of Counsel, Litigation at the New York law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

On behalf of the 20,000 children who participate in PAL programs annually and the millions who passed through our doors, we salute, Robert M. Morgenthau, hero and champion to New York City's neediest children.  He was truly the best friend a kid ever had.


Robert M. Morgenthau was born in New York City on July 31, 1919, into a family dedicated to public service. His grandfather was Ambassador to Turkey under President Woodrow Wilson, and his father served as Secretary of the Treasury under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After graduating from Deerfield Academy in 1937, he attended Amherst College. On the day after his graduation from Amherst in 1941, he joined the United States Navy and received two Bronze Stars for action in the Mediterranean and the Pacific. His destroyer, on which he served as the Executive Officer and Navigator, was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for action at Okinawa. Discharged in 1945 as a Lieutenant Commander, he entered Yale Law School where he earned his degree. He went on to become United States Attorney; District Attorney for the County of New York; and then Of Counsel at the law firm Wachtel, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.

Among these extraordinary accomplishments, perhaps the most significant is the impact he made on the lives of New York City's neediest children. For 57 years, he was the President and then Chairman of the Police Athletic League where provided leadership and strength in recruiting notable New Yorkers and corporate leaders to support one of the largest independent youth organizations in the New York City.

Mr. Morgenthau's commitment to New York City's kids was a natural fit, as he was the father of seven children of his own. Under his leadership, the Police Athletic League has successfully expanded its breadth of services to include not only athletics but educational programs, social activities, tutoring, creative arts, employment training, and counseling.

Mr. Morgenthau was instrumental in setting up Head Start and daycare programs, and PAL Playstreets. He spearheaded highly successful Capital Campaigns to design and build new PAL centers in the South Bronx, Harlem, and Queens and renovate existing facilities on the west side of Manhattan. His list of contributions to PAL never stopped growing.  This year PAL celebrated his impending birthday at our Superstar Dinner. That turned out to be his final project with PAL, though his influence will never truly fade away.  As he was prone to saying, "We would like to give all children the opportunity to grow up happy and successful.''