Henry Hillman Biography & Net Worth 

Popular Name: Henry Hillman
Real Name: Henry Lea Hillman
Birth Date: December 25, 1918
Birth Place: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
Age: Died on April 14, 2017 (aged 98)
Gender: Male
Nationality/Citizenship: American
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Sexuality: Straight
Marital Status: Married
Spouse(s): Elsie Hilliard ​(m. 1945; died 2015)
Children: 4
Profession: Businessman
Years active: N/A
Net Worth: $2.5 Billion
Last Updated: 2022

American business tycoon Henry L. Hillman, deceased in 2017, was born in Pittsburgh in 1918 as the fifth child of John and Juliet Hillman. He lived as an investor, civic leader, and philanthropist, and was in charge of the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based family company Hillman Co. as its chair. He also chaired the Hillman Family Foundation’s board of trustees, which controls 18 named foundations. Mr. Graduated from Princeton University with a degree in geology. He joined the Navy, became an aviator, and left the naval forces at the end of the war to start his professional career and later join the Hillman organization in 1946 at a time when it was headed by his father, J. H. Hillman. After his father passed in 1959, Henry assumed complete leadership of the company and took major risks in business. He led the Hillman Company to sell its largely industrial operations and turned it into a diversified investment company. One of the first investors in private equity funds, The Hillman Company was a founding investor in the funds of both Kleiner Perkins and Kohlberg Kravis and Roberts (KKR), and tech startups like Genentech, Tandem Computers, and Hybritech. During his career, Mr. Henry Hillman served on the boards of several public companies, including PNC Financial Corp, General Electric Company, Merck & Company, Cummins Engine, and Chemical Bank. He stepped down from active management of Hillman in 2004. As the chairperson of the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, he maintained an active role in the company’s governance. He also remained relevant in the family’s philanthropic endeavors as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hillman Family Foundations. More details are below.

Early Life

He was born Henry Lea Hillman on December 25, 1918, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the United States, where he was also raised by his parents, John Hartwell Hillman Jr. and Juliet Cummins Hillman. His father expanded his own father’s small iron brokerage company to establish a diversified industrial operation with holdings in banking, real estate, transportation, energy, coal, steel, and utilities.

For his education, Hillman attended Pittsburgh’s Shady Side Academy and the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut. He bagged an A.B. degree in geology from Princeton University in 1941.

Professional Life

Hillman joined Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical in January 1946 to start his career. It was a company that produced and distributed coke, merchant pig iron, and coal-derived byproducts like activated carbon. His family’s company, J. H. Hillman & Sons (later rechristened The Hillman Company) was the majority stakeholder in this publicly-traded company. Henry served as the vice president and director of the company and helped expanded its production and distribution of finished chemicals and plasticizers. He became the company’s president in 1955.

When his father died in 1959, Henry Hillman became responsible for the Hillman family holdings, which he grew beyond expectation. In the years that followed his ascension to a position of power, he sold off industrial and chemical operations, privatized Pittsburgh Coke private, and transformed Hillman into a diversified investment firm. He made acquisitions and sales of several companies between the 1960s and 1990s including Exide, Texstar Corporation, Perrigo, Read-Rite Corporation, Shakespeare Company, Joseph Magnin Co., Global Marine Systems, Continental Trailways, Bahnson Service Company, American Flyers Airline Corporation, Copeland Refrigeration Corp, and Marion Power Shovel Company. Hillman Company was one of the first privately-owned companies to invest in private equity funds. It became a founding limited partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and invested in tech firms like Genentech, Tandem Computers, Hybritech, and several more in the Silicon Valley and elsewhere. At the peak of the company’s success, it became known as one of the largest, and lowest-profile, commercial real estate developers in the United States of America, with properties from Florida to California.

During his outstanding career, Mr. Hillman also served as a director of organizations like Chemical Bank & Trust Company, Wilson Marine Transit, Texas Gas Transmission, Shakespeare Company, Marquette Cement Manufacturing; Merck & Co., Inc., Nichols-Homeshield Inc., National Steel Corporation, Marion Power Shovel Company, Global Marine Systems, General Electric Company, Cummins Engine Company, Inc., the Copeland Corporation, and Edgewater Steel.

In 2004, Mr. Hillman resigned from active management of The Hillman Company but remained active in the company’s governance as chairman.


A brilliant business leader and devoted entrepreneur, Mr. Hillman really put up a fine show while his career lasted, leading his family’s business to a higher point than he met it while also maintaining several prominent positions across several business establishments. In recognition of his countless wins in the n=business industry, this businessman was honored in many ways during his lifetime.

A recipient of the Western Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Society of Industrial Realtors’ Industrialist of the Year award in 1968, he is an inductee of the Private Equity Hall of Fame. In 1989, the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce crowned him the Business Leader of the Year.

Henry Hillman Net Worth

Before his passing in 2017, Henry Hillman was considered to be one of the wealthiest people in Pennsylvania with a net worth of $2.5 billion dollars at the peak of his career, courtesy of the success he found as an heir of his father’s company, Pittsburgh Coke & Chemical, which he expanded to invest in a range of things, including private equity, real estate, and venture capital opportunities.

Known for undertaking many business risks, many of his gambles paid off and eventually handed him his riches. He was also the owner of the PPG Palace in Pittsburgh, chairman of The Hillman Foundation, and director of numerous companies.

Henry Lea Hillman died on April 14, 2017, in Pennsylvania at 98.

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