When I was with Citicorp out of New York, my biggest customer was Trammel Crow of Dallas. He was a man of immense wealth and absolute integrity. One of my first duties in underwriting his credit was to verify a story that he repaid a debt he didn’t know about and had no legal requirement to repay. It was only about $240 thousand and had to do with a hotel in New Hebrides in the south Pacific. I tracked down the lender, which I recall was Barclay’s Bank out of London. They verified the repayment and added some color to the story. Not only did he repay the loan, he did so within 24 hours of learning about it, including interest. That’s integrity! I never learned of anything that made me question his integrity.
A few years later, he was opening a new hotel in Chicago and invited several bankers and business leaders from Dallas to fly there with him in his private plane, and I was one of them. It was a grand event for one day, and I was happy to have been invited. At no time did I feel my underwriting or professional judgment was compromised. I respected him greatly, and he died in 2009 from Alzheimer’s at age 94.
Recently, I read about his son, Harlan Crow, who allegedly financed numerous outlandish trips for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, as well as other financial arrangements. I’m confident my one-night trip to Chicago at Trammel’s expense was not a slippery-slope for Harlan’s alleged excesses years later, and I am also confident Trammel is now rolling-over-in-his grave.