James Crown, Chicago Businessman and Avid Philanthropist, Dies at 70

The scion of a wealthy Chicago family, he has held key positions at companies as diverse as General Dynamics, Sara Lee, and JPMorgan Chase, and made an up-and-coming politician named Barack Obama a key early supporter. James Crown died in Woody. Sunday, his 70th birthday, in Creek, Colorado.

Crown’s family said in a statement that Crown died in a single-vehicle accident at Aspen Motorsports Park racetrack. The statement did not provide details on how he died.

Mr. Crown was the CEO of Henry Crown & Co., a private investment firm run by his family. The company is named after his grandfather, the son of a Lithuanian sweatshop worker who built a family business selling sand, gravel, lime and coal, building a Chicago business empire worth billions of dollars. was named in

James Crown was the lead director and major shareholder of the defense and aerospace company General Dynamics.former chairman salary who helped the company split into beverage and food divisions. He is also a director of JP Morgan.

An avid philanthropist, Crown met Obama in 2003 as he prepared to run for Senate in Illinois and became an enthusiastic supporter.

Obama was defeated by the incumbent Democratic Party in the 2000 congressional elections. His advisers said he needed more connections with Jewish voters in Chicago. They also said they needed money and Mr Crown provided both.

“I was just fascinated by his sensibility, his intelligence, his values, and his conduct during the campaign,” Crown told The New York Times in 2007.

Mr. Crown and his family donated a total of $112,500 to Mr. Obama during the Democratic primary, and Jewish leaders in Chicago raised hundreds of thousands more during the campaign. Obama won the primary, then defeated Alan Keys to win a Senate seat and enter the White House, launching a career in national politics.

A few years later, Crown became Obama’s presidential fundraiser in Illinois. When Obama ran for president in 2008, he published a list of expenditures he secured as a senator, including funding for renovations to the space center named after Henry Crown at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. It included $750,000.

In 2014, Obama appointed Crown to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Committee, an independent body that advises the president on the effectiveness and goals of the U.S. intelligence service.

“When Barack was still an unlikely candidate to run for the Senate, Jim became one of his most ardent advocates and most insightful advisers,” said Obama and his wife. Michelle said in the paper. statement on monday. “He believed in our family and worked hard to convince others across Chicago that they could do it.”

Another beneficiary of Mr. Crown’s bounty is the University of Chicago, where he President of the Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2009. The university named the school of social services the Crown Family School of Social Work Policy and Practice, after Crown and his wife Paula donated $75 million in 2021. rice field.

Even after Obama left the White House, Crown continued to interact with world leaders, including meeting President Biden at Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s state dinner last week.

“Jim lived the great story of Chicago, a story that combined our nation’s hard-working past with an always-hopeful future,” Biden said. statement. “He grew up as the great-grandson of his son’s sweatshop worker who turned a construction materials company into an empire. Through his own career as a business and civic leader, Jim carries that legacy forward.” I continued.”

Mr. Crown served on the board of Bank One, a major consumer bank in the Midwest and South, from 1991 until 2004, when JP Morgan bought the company in a deal worth about $58 billion. He remained on the board after the merger.

In a statement, JPMorgan Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said Mr. Crown “has been a trusted advisor to me for nearly 20 years and has played a key role in helping the firm navigate many business and economic challenges. I have done it,” he said.

Crown and two other directors, David Cort and Ellen Futter, said: criticized in 2013 After JP Morgan lost more than $6 billion in betting on credit derivatives.the loss was a draw Oversight from Federal Regulatorscalls for stronger risk management and a sharper critique of Dimon.

James Shine Crown was born on June 25, 1953 in Chicago to Lester Crown and Renee (Shine) Crown. His mother also came from a wealthy family, and his father, J. Meyer Schein, made his fortune in real estate and hotels. She serves on the board of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and founded the Honors Program at Syracuse University.

Lester Crown has been the largest shareholder of General Dynamics for many years. He also became a minority owner of the Chicago Bulls and the New York Yankees.

The Crown family fortune began with James’ grandfather, Henry Crown (real name Henry Klinsky), whose surname was changed to Crown by his father when Henry was a boy. Henry dropped out of school in his eighth grade and eventually started the family building materials business with his older brother, developing a strong interest in railroads, meat packing, hotels and, at one point, the Empire State and his building.

In 2020, forbes magazine ranks the Crown family as the 34th wealthiest family in the United States, with an estimated value of $10.2 billion.

James Crown graduated from Nutrier West High School (now part of Nutrier High School) in Northfield, Illinois in 1972. He earned his BA in Political Science from Hampshire University in Amherst, Massachusetts in 1976. After earning a law degree from Stanford University, he began working for Solomon Brothers, an investment bank in New York City.

In 1983 he became vice president of Salomon, where he met investment banker Paula Hanaway. The two married in 1985 and moved to Chicago, where Mr. Crown joined his family’s investment firm.

In addition to his wife and parents, Mr. Crown has two brothers, Steve and Daniel. Four sisters, Patricia (known as PC), Susan, Sarah and Janet Crown. Three daughters, Tori, Haley, and Summer Clown. Son, W. Andrew Crown. and two grandchildren.

A home in Aspen, Mr. Crown was also an avid skier and managing partner of the Aspen Ski Company, which operates ski resorts. Resort.

The family’s statement did not say what Mr. Crown was doing at Aspen Motorsports Park at the time of the accident.Of the park website Members meet twice a week for races. There is usually a qualifying session, followed by two races for him to do “fast-paced, wheel-to-wheel action” in a “Spec Racer Toyota”.

The racetrack did not respond to phone calls or emails.

Mr. Crown recently encouraged Chicago business leaders to create thousands of jobs in disadvantaged areas of the city, provided millions of dollars for civilian violence intervention programs, and strengthened law enforcement and low-income communities. launched an effort to tackle gun violence in Chicago. .

He said the initiative would help Chicago’s upper class as well as lower-income residents.

“You have altruism,” Crown said. chicago sun-times. “But there are also smart self-interests: wanting to be safe, wanting employees to come to work, wanting tourists to patronize your business, whatever it is.”

Emily Flitter contributed to the report.

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