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Robert Cizik is the second of five sons born to Anna and John Cizik between 1927 and 1941. His father was a miner who worked in the coal fields near Scranton, Pennsylvania. Anna worked in the local silk mills when John was out of work, a not infrequent occurrence during the Great Depression. In those periods John became a house-husband.
As first-generation Americans of Eastern European heritage, his parents taught their sons old world work values in a new world where they believed every man could realize his dreams through hard work. The onset of World War II and the rapid build-up of the defense industry in New England provided the family an opportunity to escape the coal fields of Scranton for a new life in Norwalk, Connecticut.
Adopting the work values passed on by his parents and grandparents, Bob graduated with high honors from the University of Connecticut in 1953. Shortly thereafter he married Jane Morin and joined the accounting firm of Price Waterhouse in New York City. The U.S. Air Force called in its ROTC chips in April, 1954, and two weeks later he was serving as a Second Lieutenant with the Fifth Air Force in Nagoya, Japan. Jane and their first child joined him there some eight months later.
Upon returning from military duty, Bob entered Harvard Business School and graduated with High Distinction in 1958 where he was also named a Baker Scholar. Initially joining Standard Oil Company in New York City (Exxon), he soon learned of an opportunity at Cooper Industries (formerly Cooper-Bessemer), a manufacturer of engines, turbines and compressors for the oil and natural gas industry. With that the Cizik family packed their belongings and relocated to the small farming community of Mt. Vernon, Ohio.
Cooper moved its corporate headquarters to Houston in 1967, and Bob became the President and COO in 1973. The Chairmanship followed in 1983. After 35 years with the company, he retired in 1996.
When asked which of his many honors he treasures most, he lists an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree from Kenyon College and Alumni Achievement Awards from both the University of Connecticut and Harvard Business School.
Bob and Jane (now with 5 children) flourished in the Houston community, both becoming heavily involved in giving of their time and influence to issues close to their hearts. Bob felt passionately that Houston should havea world class performing arts theatre and devoted over 10 years of his efforts in co-chairing the campaign to build The Wortham Theatre Center. He remains active in business and serves on the boards of the Texas Heart Institute and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).
Giving and serving are his way of putting something back into the community he and Jane call home.