Born in New York City, Harold McGraw, Jr. graduated from Princeton University in 1940, served as a captain in the Army Air Corps in World War II, and then worked in the advertising agency and book retailing fields before joining McGraw-Hill as a sales representative in its Book Company in 1947. He has held many publishing responsibilities in his over fifty years with the firm, becoming president of the McGraw-Hill Book Company in 1968, and then president of the parent corporation, McGraw-Hill, Inc., its chief executive officer, and chairman of the Board. In 1988, having reached the Board retirement age of seventy, he officially retired, but the Board elected him chairman emeritus. Mr. McGraw also served as a director on two other corporate Boards, CPC International Inc., and the Schering-Plough Corporation.
Among his civic activities, he founded the Business Council for Effective Literacy in 1983 and was its president for the subsequent decade. He also founded The Business Press Educational Foundation in 1984. Some of his other civic activities have included The New York Public Library, the Council for Aid to Education, the International Center for the Disabled, the Princeton University Press, and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy.
Among honors received was the nation’s highest literacy award presented to him in 1990 by President Bush at the White House. He has also been awarded honorary degrees by the Graduate School of the City University of New York, by Ohio University, by Princeton University, by Pine Manor College, by Fairfield University, by Hofstra University, and by Marymount Manhattan College. He also received the Cleveland E. Dodge Medal for Distinguished Service to Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College.
Harold W. McGraw, Jr. died of natural causes the morning of March 24, 2010, at his home at the age of 92.