Entrepreneur and philanthropist Jay I. Kislak used to say the character-building lessons he learned as an enlisted U.S. Navy pilot during World War II contributed to his success.
Kislak’s ties to his military service came full circle, with the Kislak Family Foundation’s $10 million donation to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.
The gift, announced Feb. 24, will support creation of the new “World War II in the Air” gallery.
“My father was very proud of his military service, and of those with whom he served,” Dr. Paula Kislak, chair of the Kislak Family Foundation, said in a statement released by the museum.
“...We in the family and
at the foundation enthusiastically and humbly embrace the opportunity to support
the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and to put the name Jay I. Kislak on what we know will be a beautiful and inspiring gallery dedicated to all who served our country during World War II,” she said.
Scheduled to open in 2025, the North American P-51D Mustang, the Eastern Aircraft (Grumman) FM-1 Wildcat and the German Messerschmitt Bf 109 G fighter planes will be dis- played, the museum said.
Also to be shown: Artifacts that demonstrate how workers at home helped America and the Allies win the war, as well as the history of military aviation and advances that continue to the present day.
Born in New Jersey, Kislak graduated early from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
He served three years of active duty with the U.S. Navy’s air ferry squadrons during the war.
Kislak served in the Naval Reserve, too. Piloting aircraft was a life-long hobby.
He made his fortune in real estate, mortgage lending and banking.
Kislak also collected historic and important rare books, maps, paintings and other treasures and donated many items to Miami Dade College, the University of Miami and the Library of Congress.
Kislak died in 2018 at age 96. His wife Jean Kislak, four adult children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren survived him.
His firm, The Kislak Organization, at 7900 Miami Lakes Drive in Miami Lakes, is still in business.
The company building at the corner of Northwest 77th Court is also home to the foundation.