1981 Horatio Alger Award Winner
"The marketplace always welcomes with open arms someone who can get things done, and I'd say to any young person that the opportunities today are as prevalent as they were 50 years ago."
Augustine Marusi was born in 1913 to Italian immigrant parents who lived in a walk-up flat in Manhattan. When Marusi was five, his father got a job as a factory worker in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and the family moved to a small company-owned house next to a railroad track. The elder Marusi's job title was "mixer of medications." His most famous concoction was cod liver oil flavored with oil of wintergreen, called Scott's Emulsion. At age 11, Marusi began helping his family financially. He sold newspapers and clerked on weekends.
A gifted math student, Marusi was guided by a high school teacher to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic in Troy, New York, where he waited tables and tended the furnace in the dorm to pay his way through school. One summer, he hitchhiked to Nevada to work in a gold mine. Marusi graduated in 1936, but jobs were scarce during the Depression. His father had lost his job, as well as the company-owned house. His mother had just opened a small restaurant in New York, so the whole family pitched in to help make it a success. From there, Marusi got a job with Borden.
Part of his time with Borden was spent in Brazil and Argentina. He was proud of having been one of the founders of the Minority Purchasing Council in the mid-1970s. The organization grew out of a directive from HEW Secretary Eliot Richardson to help minorities achieve the necessary status in the business community to enable them to market their products successfully. Marusi, as president of the council until 1979, presided over the establishment of minority business centers around the country.
Over the years, Marusi lent his skills in other areas of public service, too. He merged the Multiple Sclerosis chapters of the five New York boroughs, paying off debts and leading the charity eventually to earn several million dollars a year. And, as a trustee, he instituted a curriculum at Monmouth Memorial Hospital in Long Branch, New Jersey, that's made it a teaching hospital of merit.
When giving advice, Marusi said, "You've got to work hard and pay your dues. You've got to be dedicated to achieving."* Deceased