Philip M. Klutznick, 93, a leading Chicago real estate developer and past president of B'Nai B'rith International who served as secretary of commerce from 1979 to 1981, died Aug. 14 in Chicago. He had Alzheimer's disease.
He joined the Cabinet as a sage veteran of Democratic Party politics, a successful businessman and someone who was a highly respected leader of the Jewish community. During his years in office, he became a great supporter of President Jimmy Carter. In 1980, he campaigned extensively for Carter before Jewish and business groups.
In the 1980 presidential primaries, he served as a Carter surrogate speaker during the president's successful battle for renomination against Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.). He held office until President Ronald Reagan took office.
Mr. Klutznick was born in Kansas City, Mo., to Orthodox Jewish parents. His father was a shoemaker. Mr. Klutznick attended the universities of Kansas and Nebraska and received a law degree from Creighton University in 1930.
After serving as an assistant city attorney of Omaha and then as the city's public housing chief, he was called to Washington during the New Deal. He served as an assistant attorney general for public lands before World War II.
During the war, he was put in charge of the construction of what some came to call "instant cities" for defense workers. These consisted of roads, housing and recreational facilities for thousands where only cows had lived before.
Among those instant cities was Oak Ridge, Tenn., one of the huge and secret facilities where the mysteries of the atomic bomb were solved.
Mr. Klutznick once told a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, "I don't know if the atomic bomb could have been built if it weren't for the expandable trailer."
Under President Harry S. Truman, Mr. Klutznick served for a time as commissioner of the Federal Public Housing Authority, laying groundwork for slum clearance and public housing programs.
He then moved to Chicago, and by 1949 he was advising Illinois' new governor, Adlai Stevenson, on public housing matters. Mr. Klutznick entered the real estate development business.
He and a partner built what became Park Forest, Ill., turning 2,400 acres of farmland about 25 miles outside Chicago into an instant suburb for returning war veterans. Three-bedroom houses could be had for $75 a month. By the late 1950s, the town had more than 30,000 residents.
Later in his development career, he built some of the nation's first regional shopping malls. By his final years, he had helped pioneer "vertical development" for the return-to-the-city movement, with offices, shops and residences all in one skyscraper.
In addition to business, he had remained active in public life as an adviser and trouble-shooter to Democratic presidents and Illinois officials.
He had served as a United Nations delegate under Stevenson, the two-time Democratic Party presidential nominee, who became U.N. ambassador, serving as Stevenson's chief economic adviser.
Mr. Klutznick organized a $200 million bond issue for the world organization. He also advised Stevenson on Third World development projects.
In Chicago, he led efforts during the mayoral administration of Harold Washington (D) to organize the financial bailout of the Chicago Housing Authority.
Mr. Klutznick also was a leading fund-raiser for Israel and was B'nai B'rith president from 1953 to 1959.
He later served as chairman of the World Jewish Congress.