James Crowne, Chicago businessman and avid philanthropist, dies at age 70

James Crowne, Chicago businessman and avid philanthropist, dies at age 70

James Crown, scion of a wealthy Chicago family who held key positions in businesses as diverse as General Dynamics, Sarah Lee and JPMorgan Chase, and who became an important early supporter of rising politician Barack Obama, dies in Woody Done. Creek, Colo., on Sunday, his 70th birthday.

Mr. Crown’s family said in a statement that he died in a car accident at Aspen Motorsports Park Racetrack. The statement gave no further details about how he died.

Mr. Crowne was the chief executive of Henry Crowne & Company, the privately owned investment firm of the family. The company is named after his grandfather, the son of a Lithuanian sweatshop worker who built a family company that sold sand, gravel, lime and coal to a Chicago business empire worth billions.

James Crowne was also a principal director and major shareholder of the defense and aerospace company General Dynamics; a former president of sara lee which helped split the company into beverage and food divisions; and board member of JP Morgan.

An avid philanthropist, Mr. Crowne met Mr. Obama in 2003, when he was preparing to run for the US Senate in Illinois, and became an ardent supporter.

Mr. Obama was defeated in the 2000 race for Congress against the Democratic incumbent. His advisers said he needed to engage more with Chicago’s Jewish voters. He also said that he needed money, Mr. Crown provided both.

Mr. Crown told The New York Times in 2007, “I was stunned by his sensitivity, his intelligence, his values ​​and how he conducted himself during that campaign.”

Mr. Crowne and his family donated a total of $112,500 to Mr. Obama during the Democratic primary, and Chicago Jewish leaders donated hundreds of thousands of dollars during the campaign. Mr. Obama won the primary election, then defeated Alan Keyes for the Senate seat and launched a national political career that took him to the White House.

A few years later, Mr. Crowne became Mr. Obama’s chief presidential fundraiser in Illinois. When Mr. Obama ran for president in 2008, he released a list of awards he had received as a senator, including one for helping renovate a space center named after Henry Crown at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. $750,000 was also included.

In 2014, Mr. Obama appointed Mr. Crown to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board, an independent group that advises the president on the effectiveness and goals of US intelligence agencies.

Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, said in an interview, “When Barack was still an unlikely candidate for the US Senate, Jim became one of his staunchest supporters and wisest advisers.” statement on Monday. “He believed in our family, and he worked hard to make others throughout Chicago believe they could do the same.”

Another beneficiary of Mr. Crown’s generosity was the University of Chicago, where he Served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2009, The university named its social service school the Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy and Practice after Mr. Crown and his wife Paula donated $75 million in 2021.

After Mr. Obama left the White House, Mr. Crown continued to meet with world leaders, including President Biden, whom he met last week at a state dinner for Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.

Mr. Biden said in a speech, “Jim lived a great Chicago story – one that connected our nation’s hardworking past with an optimistic future.” statement, “He grew up as the great-grandson of a sweatshop worker whose son turned a construction-supply company into an empire. Throughout his career as a business and civic leader, Jim continued to carry on that legacy.

Mr. Crown was a director of Bank One, a consumer banking giant in the Midwest and South, from 1991 to 2004, when JPMorgan acquired it in a deal worth about $58 billion. He continued as a board member after the merger.

JPMorgan Chairman and Chief Executive Jamie Dimon wrote in a statement that Mr. Crown “has been a trusted advisor to me for nearly 20 years, playing a key role in helping our company navigate a number of business and economic challenges. ”

Mr. Crown and two other board members, David Cote and Allen Futter, criticized in 2013 After JPMorgan lost more than $6 billion in bets on credit derivatives. made a loss investigation from federal regulatorsDemand for more robust risk management and sharp criticism of Mr. Dimon.

James Shine Crown was born on June 25, 1953 in Chicago to Lester and Renee (Shine) Crown. His mother also comes from a wealthy family – his father, J.J. Meyer Shine made a lot of money in real estate and hotels – and she serves as director of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and created an honors program at Syracuse University.

Lester Crowne was the leading shareholder of General Dynamics for many years. He also became a minority owner of the Chicago Bulls and New York Yankees.

The Crown family fortunes began with Henry Crown, James’ grandfather, Henry Krinsky, whose father changed the family name to Crown when Henry was a boy. Henry dropped out of school in the eighth grade and eventually started the family building materials business with his brother, which they expanded to include railroads, meat packing, hotels, and for a time major interests in the Empire State Building.

In 2020, forbes magazine With an estimated net worth of $10.2 billion, the Crown family was ranked the 34th richest in the United States.

James Crowne graduated from New Trier West High School (now part of New Trier High School) in Northfield, Illinois in 1972. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science in 1976 from Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. After completing his law degree at Stanford, he began working for Salomon Brothers, a New York City investment bank.

In 1983, he became a vice president at Salomon, where he met Paula Hannaway, an investment banker. They married in 1985 and moved to Chicago, where Mr. Crown joined his family’s investment firm.

In addition to his wife and his parents, Mr. Crowne is survived by two brothers, Steve and Daniel; four sisters, Patricia (known as PC), Susan, Sarah, and Janet Crown; three daughters, Tori, Hayley, and Summer Crown; One son, W. Andrew Crown; and two grandchildren.

Mr. Crowne, who kept his home in Aspen, was also an avid skier and managing partner of the Aspen Skiing Company, which operates a company. resort.

The family statement did not say what Mr Crown was doing at Aspen Motorsports Park at the time of the accident. Garden Website says members gather twice a week to race, typically a qualifying session followed by two races with “fast-paced, wheel-to-wheel action” in “spec racer Toyotas”.

The racetrack did not respond to phone calls or emails.

Mr. Crowne recently fought gun violence in Chicago by encouraging the city’s business leaders to create thousands of jobs in disadvantaged areas of the city, provide millions of dollars for civilian violence intervention programs, and boost law enforcement and low-income communities. Tried to deal with it. ,

The effort, he said, would help the upper half of Chicago as well as its lower-income residents.

“You have altruism,” said Mr. Crown. Chicago Sun-Times, “But you also have enlightened self-interest: I want to be safe, I want my employees to come to work, I want tourists to patronize my business, whatever it takes.”

Emily Flitter contributed reporting.

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