Harvey Krentzman dies at 79

The name Krentzman evokes the image of a picturesque quad in the heart of Northeastern’s campus, but it also belongs to a family legacy at the university.

Harvey “Chet” Krentzman, 79, of Newton, a philanthropist, businessman, loving father and devoted graduate of Northeastern, died unexpectedly Dec. 23.

Mr. Krentzman’s son, Scott, admired his father’s reverence for the institution and willingness to help others earn money.

“Northeastern is growing and improving tremendously, and I was actually attending when the quad, which was the hang out, was named Krentzman,” Scott Krentzman said. “Northeastern provided us with a great learning opportunity, and he [Mr. Krentzman] made the most of it.”

He was dedicated to his work, Scott said. “If he wasn’t working, he was sleeping,” his son said.

Mr. Krentzman received a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Northeastern in 1949 and years later received an honorary doctorate from the university. He earned his graduate degree from Harvard University.

In the mid-1950s, he founded Advance Management Associates, a company dedicated to improving other companies and helping them achieve their full potential.

Through his company, Mr. Krentzman has advised and bought profitable and non-profitable divisions of large companies in more than 30 different industries. He helped run the company with his sons, Mark and Scott, until his death.

Both sons are Northeastern graduates and contribute to the university and their father’s company and philanthropic endeavors. Mr. Krentzman was close friends with several Northeastern presidents, including John Curry and current President Richard Freeland.

“He’s a wonderful human being, a self-made man from Chelsea,” Curry said. “He never forgot his roots and exemplified the idea of giving back to the institutions that made him and helped him.”

Curry said Mr. Krentzman used to tell him, “I’ve got a lot of money and limited time, so I want to devote most of my energy to helping others and those that helped me.”

“He loved sports, he was a Celtics season ticket holder and he was just so personable. He loved Northeastern so much he sent his sons there,” Curry said. “When I was president we used to sit in his house drinking a glass of wine and discussing where we saw Northeastern in the future and how proud we were that we had children and grandchildren attending a place we loved so much.”

According to the Advance Management Associates Web site, Mr. Krentzman enjoyed working with smaller businesses because there is less chaos involved with them and, in his words, “it’s where I can have real impact.”

Mr. Krentzman donated to many companies, including the American College of Greece, Beth Israel Hospital, Norman Rockwell Museum and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. He was also a trustee of the Beth Israel/Deaconess Medical Center and Northeastern, a life trustee of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and served as president of Congregation Mishkan Tefila in Newton.

Mr. Krentzman leaves his wife of 53 years, Farla (Blumer); two sons, Scott and Mark; a sister, Dolly; and seven grandchildren.

A funeral service was held Dec. 27 at Mishkan Tefila, and President Richard Freeland spoke, along with two rabbis and Mitchell Rabkin, former CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.