Florida businessman and philanthropist Alexander Wallace Dreyfoos Jr. dies at 91

 May 30, 2023

The Palm Beach Daily News reported that local "cultural icon" Alexander Wallace Dreyfoos Jr. passed away on Sunday at the age of 91.

While the businessman and philanthropist rose from humble beginnings, he once told the paper that the mystery of his success had a simple answer: hard work. 

From mediocrity to MIT

That was illustrated by his admission into the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) despite previously having a mediocre academic record.

"I did well in school but not super, because I had too many other interests," Dreyfoos said of his early high school days in a 2019 interview with The Palm Beach Post.

However, the situation changed drastically after a college admissions advisor asked about his aspirations. When Dreyfoos said he planned to attend MIT, the advisor expressed skepticism.

Dreyfoos took the fateful conversation as something of "a wakeup call" and resolved to start "paying attention" to his studies. That change in direction resulted in him attending MIT and graduating in 1954.

Inventing ran in the family

He joined the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps while still enrolled in college and was deployed to Germany where he developed a passion for photography.

Following his discharge, Dreyfoos obtained a master's in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1958 and co-founded Photo Electronics Corp. five years later.

The company developed Video Color Negative Analyzer (VCNA), a technology that increased the ease with which high-quality picture prints could be developed.

Inventing seems to have run in the family, as Dreyfoos told the Post that his father "was a bit of an inventor," adding, "He came up with several machines — one of which speeded up the printing process and allowed him to make inexpensive pictures for an artist to go give to their fans."

Dreyfoos remembered for being "a visionary"

Dreyfoos was known for his support of the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County, which describes itself as an "organization solely dedicated to supporting arts and culture in The Palm Beaches."

Dave Lawrence serves as president and CEO of the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County and he hailed Dreyfoos as "a visionary."

"He was profoundly creative, forward-thinking and saw the value and potential of supporting arts and culture in Palm Beach County," the Daily News quoted Lawrence as saying in a statement.

"We are so thankful to him for the extraordinary support he’s given to arts and culture in Palm Beach County through the years," Lawrence went on to stress.

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