Consolidating real estate strength to meet wartime problems, John W. Galbreath* persuaded real estate boards from every state and principal city in the nation to become Association members. During his term, the New York City Real Estate Board and 48th state came into the REALTOR® fold.
Deeply involved in the war effort, President Galbreath began preparations to insure the proper disposal of surplus federal properties and to aid veterans in the acquisition of homes and farms. With respect to wartime rent controls, the Association won amendments guaranteeing the right to individual adjustments.
For two years preceding the presidency, Mr. Galbreath was chairman of the REALTORS® Washington Committee, which was formed to confer with federal officials on real estate problems associated with the war emergency. He previously served as president of the Columbus Real Estate Board and of the Ohio Association of Real Estate Boards.
Born in 1897 in Mt. Sterling, Ohio, Mr. Galbreath worked his way through Ohio University and formed his own real estate business in Columbus just a few years after graduation. He became noted for his many large-scale operations, which have included building and managing several complete towns, the purchase and rehabilitation of 35 industrial townsites in eight states, and the construction of more than 25 large office buildings and industrial complexes in major cities.
Among his more notable accomplishments is Mei Foo Sun Chuen, the largest housing project ever built and financed by private industry. Completed in 1978, the project houses 80,000 residents of Kowloon, Hong Kong. In addition to building Bramalea, a satellite city near Toronto, Canada, Mr. Galbreath was responsible for the major portion of the urban renewal program in Columbus, Ohio. John W. Galbreath and Co. has principal offices in Columbus, Pittsburgh and New York City.
Mr. Galbreath was director emeritus of Buckeye Federal Savings and Loan Association, First Bank Group of Columbus and Buckeye International and honorary director of City National Bank and Trust Co. of Columbus. An avid raiser of thoroughbred horses, he was director and chairman of the board of Churchill Downs, Inc. He also was chairman and principal owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Club.
The recipient of numerous honorary doctorate degrees, Mr. Galbreath was a trustee of Ohio University for 26 years and in 1967 was awarded The Founders Citation, the highest honor given by the university. His many other honors include the Horatio Alger Award, Christopher Columbus Award, Ohio REALTOR® of the Year, Columbus REALTOR® of the Year and eight awards for outstanding contributions to the thoroughbred racing industry. Recognizing Mr. Galbreath as one of the most distinguished citizens of Columbus, the state and nation, the city of Columbus in 1975 dedicated John W. Galbreath Square in his honor.
Mr. Galbreath helped establish the Herbert Nelson Real Estate Scholarship fund at Ohio State University to assist students majoring in real estate.
John Galbreath died in July of 1988 at the age of 80.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).