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Tom Killefer, former university trustee, chairman of U.S. Trust, dies
STANFORD --Memorial services for Tom Killefer, chairman and president emeritus of U.S. Trust Corp. and a former member of the Stanford Board of Trustees, have been set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at Stanford Memorial Church.
Killefer died suddenly Sunday, June 16, at his Portola Valley home. Family members said he collapsed while dressing for a Father's Day dinner and after having played 18 holes of golf. He was 79.
Killefer had attended Stanford's commencement eve dinner Saturday night where he was "the soul of charm and good cheer" and making plans to attend next year's Phi Beta Kappa ceremony, according to Susan Abernethy of the Office of Development.
Killefer, who served on the board of directors of a number of companies and non-profit organizations and in U.S. government positions, was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 1917. He received his bachelor's degree cum laude in economics from Stanford in 1938. He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, president of the student body and a pitcher on the university baseball team. In 1942, he received a law degree from Harvard and then was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford. He was admitted to the bars of California in 1946, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1953, the District of Columbia in 1954 and of Michigan in 1966.
During World War II, he served as lieutenant, series grade, with the U.S. Navy's carrier and land-based fighter squadrons in the Southwest Pacific and European theaters. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism and extraordinary achievement in combat flight against Japanese forces; the Navy Air Medal; the Purple Heart for wounds received in action; the Presidential Unit Citation; and the Naval Unit Citation.
From 1947 to 1959, he practiced law with Lillick, Geary, Wheat, Adams & Charles in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., becoming partner in 1956. He was on the staff of the U.S. High Commission for Germany in 1951 and 1952 and was executive director of the Committee of American Steamship Lines in 1959 and 1960. From 1959 until 1962, he was first vice president, vice chairman and a director of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and from 1962 to 1966, he was U.S. executive director of the Interamerican Development Bank and special assistant to the secretary of the treasury.
In 1966, he became general counsel and chief financial officer for the Chrysler Corp. and was made executive vice president in 1975. In 1976, he became chairman, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Trust Company of New York, one of the nation's largest trust and investment managers. He remained chairman of that corporation until he retired in 1982, becoming chairman and president emeritus. Killefer also served as director of Chrysler, U.S. Trust, Pullman Corp., Northrop Corp. and American Natural Resources.
He served as representative of the Maritime Law Association of the United States at the U.N. Conference on the Law of the Sea at Geneva in 1958 and was senior adviser and member of the U.S. delegation to meetings of the Interamerican Economic and Social Council of the United Nations from 1962 to 1966.
In 1971, he became a member of Stanford's Board of Trustees, serving in that capacity until 1981. In 1976, he became chairman of the board of directors of the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and of Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. At various times, he also served as a director or trustee of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, the Detroit Symphony, the New York Philharmonic Society, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York, the Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford, the Atlantic Council of the United States, the Community Foundation of Santa Clara County, the National Council of Crime and Delinquency, and as a member of the Rockefeller University Council.
Among his honors were the Order of Merit for Distinguished Service from the government of Peru, the National Award of Honor from the American Association of College Baseball Coaches in 1974, and the Distinguished Achievement Medal of the Stanford University Athletic Board in 1977. Among his many gifts to Stanford was the endowed Killefer dissertation fellowship for doctoral students in English.
He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, of Portola Valley; four children, Wade, Caroline, Gail and Anne; and four grandchildren. The family prefers donations to a fund he created at
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