Chicago business executive and philanthropist Jim Crown killed in Colorado racetrack crash
WOODY CREEK, Colo. (AP) — Jim Crown, an executive and philanthropist who recently announced an effort to rally other business leaders to help fight violent crime in Chicago, died Sunday in a car crash on a racing track in Colorado. He was 70.
Crown, a grandson of industrialist Henry Crown and the chief executive of Henry Crown & Co., was involved in a single-vehicle accident at the Aspen Motorsports Park in Woody Creek, the Pitkin County coroner’s office said in a news release.
“The official cause of death is pending autopsy, although multiple blunt force trauma is evident,” said the coroner’s office, which classified the death as accidental.
Crown’s father, financier Lester Crown, said his son “was driving a race car, and it hit a wall going around a curve,” the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“There never was a finer human being in every way,” Lester Crown said. “He was the leader of our family both intellectually and emotionally, and he looked out for everybody. He also was a great leader also for the community. It’s just a heartfelt loss. There are no words that can express it.”
Jim Crown, a member of the Commercial Club of Chicago, said this month that he and other Chicago corporate leaders were committed to finding jobs for as many as 10,000 young men, according to the Sun-Times.
“Jim was a pillar of Chicago, a prominent voice in the Jewish community, and a true civic leader who loved our city,” former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama said in a statement. “He cared deeply about Chicago and making it a place where everyone could thrive — no matter who they are or what part of town they call home.”
“Jim gave back to the city through philanthropy and leadership on a number of civic and academic boards as he was deeply committed to investing in Chicago and its people,” Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said Monday in a statement. “With his generosity, Jim truly embodied the soul of Chicago. I was especially grateful for his commitment to work collaboratively with my administration to build a safer Chicago, having met recently to share ideas.”
Crown’s family business, Henry Crown & Co., invests in public and private securities, real estate, and operating companies.
He also was managing partner of Aspen Skiing Co. He had been serving as lead director at General Dynamics Corp. and as a director at JPMorgan Chase, his family said in a release.
Crown also was a trustee on various boards and committees including The Aspen Institute and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. He was appointed by then-President Barack Obama to the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board.
“The Crown family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Jim Crown in an accident earlier (Sunday),” his family said. “The family requests that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. Further details regarding plans for a memorial to remember Jim’s remarkable life will be released at a later date.”
Born in Chicago in 1953, Crown earned a bachelor’s in political science in 1976 from Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. He received his law degree in 1980 from Stanford Law School, his family said.
He later joined Salomon Brothers Inc. in New York as an associate and became a vice president of the Capital Markets Service Group in 1983. He joined his family’s investment firm in Chicago in 1985.
Crown is survived by his wife, Paula; parents Lester and Renée; six siblings; four children; a son-in-law; and two grandchildren.