With 2 brothers, opened ice cream shop in 1940 with just $1,200; grew into United Dairy Farmers chain. UDF now run by brother Robert; operates nearly 200 stores in the Midwest. Moved into finance with S&L investments in 1959 and insurance in 1971. Today, with sons, owns 29% stake in American Financial Group; shares down 20% since February 2007.
American Financial Group owned, or held substantial investments in, Charter Co., marketer of fuel to electric utilities; Chiquita Brands International Inc., one of the world's largest food producers, and Great American Insurance Co.
His financial support for the University of Cincinnati, which named its business administration building after him, and various charities earned him a reputation as a philanthropist.
Lindner's fortunes began to slide in the late 1980s with the acquisition of Taft Broadcasting, a Cincinnati television and radio company.
The $1.5 billion takeover in 1987 left the new company, Great American Communications, mired in debt. The company was forced to sell several key assets in a short time, including cartoon creator Hanna-Barbera Productions. In 1992, Lindner suffered losses of $560 million at Great American Communications and $284 million at Chiquita, leading to a $77 million loss at American Financial. In 1993, Lindner filed for "prepackaged" bankruptcy to restructure the debts of Great American Communications.
Lindner, along with brothers Robert and Richard and sister Dorothy, helped his parents in a succession of dairy businesses, first in Dayton, and then in Cincinnati. He never finished high school because he was so busy.
Lindner's three sons, by second wife Edyth Bailey, all followed him into the family business.
Carl H. Lindner III, 58, is president of Great American Insurance Co.
S. Craig Lindner, 56, is president of American Annuity Group and senior executive vice president of American Money Management.
Keith Lindner, 52, is vice chairman of Chiquita Brands International Inc.