It is with heavy hearts that we announce Richard Hampton Jenrette’s death at age 89. Dick died peacefully at the Roper House in Charleston, SC, on April 22, 2018, surrounded by family and friends. He was a gracious man whose many achievements included a successful Wall Street career (The New York Times referred to him as “the last gentleman” of Wall Street) recognition as a leading preservationist, and the founding of Classical American Homes Preservation Trust. This year will celebrate Dick’s 50 years of preservation with his purchase of Roper House in 1968 and Edgewater in 1969. We will miss his brilliant mind, humility, sense of humor, and twinkling blue eyes. A true gentleman to the end.
Mr. Jenrette had a life-long love and deep appreciation for things of beauty. He assembled one of the largest and best documented collections of Duncan Phyfe furniture in the country, much of it original to the classical houses he so lovingly preserved. His passion for preserving old houses began in Charleston in 1968 with the purchase of the Robert W. Roper House on the High Battery, followed soon after in 1969 with the acquisition of Edgewater on the banks of the Hudson River in New York, marking fifty years of preservation. He also made a substantial investment in his adopted Charleston, SC, in the late 1960s when he led a partnership that built the Mills House Hotel, which provided a badly needed infusion of capital into the city at that time.
Mr. Jenrette was involved in the restoration, decoration and landscaping of over a dozen homes over fifty years. Included among these are the Roper House, built in 1838, in Charleston, SC; Edgewater, built in 1824 in northern Dutchess County; Ayr Mount, built in 1815, in Hillsborough, NC; George F. Baker Houses, built in 1931, in New York City; Millford Plantation, built in 1840, near Columbia, SC; and Cane Garden, built in 1786, in St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. In a foreword to one of Mr. Jenrette’s books, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales notes: “No wonder some of his admirers have described Dick as a one-person National Trust for Historic Preservation.”
Plans for a future memorial service will be announced. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Classical American Homes Preservation Trust in furtherance of Dick’s legacy.
The New York Times, “Richard Jenrette, 89, Wall St. Power and Preservationist, Dies”
The Post & Courier, “Wall Street titan, S.C. preservationist Richard Jenrette has died”
The Sumter Item, “Jenrette was respected preservationist”
The Washington Post, “Richard Jenrette, noted investment banker, dies at 89”
Mr. Jenrette was born in Raleigh, N.C. on April 5, 1929. He graduated from Broughton High School and the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill where he majored in Journalism and was the editor of the Daily Tar Heel. After college, he entered the United States Army as part of the Intelligence Corp proudly serving during the Korean War. After discharge from the Army, he returned to Raleigh where he briefly became a life insurance agent. Shortly thereafter, he attended Harvard Business School, where he received an MBA in 1957.
After Harvard Business School, Mr. Jenrette worked for the brokerage firm Brown Brothers Harriman – managing the account of Greta Garbo, among others – until he co-founded the brokerage firm Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette (DLJ) in 1959 with Harvard Business School colleagues, Bill Donaldson and Dan Lufkin. The firm was considered one of the first major brokerage houses started on Wall Street since the Great Depression and was frequently coined as the “House that Research Built.” He served variously as chief executive officer, president and chairman of the board until the firm was acquired by The Equitable Life Assurance Society of North America. Once again, he served in various positions until becoming the CEO and President of The Equitable and guided the company through demutualization into a corporation, the first incidence of demutualization by a major insurance company in this country. As well as serving on the boards of DLJ and Equitable, he also served on the boards of the News and Observer Publishing Co. in Raleigh, NC, Roses Stores in Henderson, NC, AXA Insurance, Advanced Micro devices, McGraw Hill Publishing, and The Blackstone Group.
Mr. Jenrette not only was a capable leader extraordinaire, but also was a mentor to numerous men and women on Wall Street. Carl H. Tiedemann, a former president of DLJ, described Mr. Jenrette’s warm and gracious nature by stating to the NY Times that “Dick [was] more in tune with human values and that’s not frequently found on Wall Street.” He not only helped women break the glass ceiling on Wall Street but also promoted many colleagues into the development of their own firms. He was an adviser to presidents and hosted guests including royalty, heads of state, cabinet members, Nobel Prize winners, Supreme Court Justices, governors, US senators and representatives.
At times he served on the boards of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Harvard University, Historic Charleston Foundation, Duke Endowment, Hollings Cancer Center of the Medical University of SC, as well as being Chairman of Historic Hudson Valley, and the Advisory Council of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mr. Jenrette received numerous honorary degrees from prestigious colleges and universities around the country including the University of North Carolina, the Citadel and Hamilton College, and was the recipient of many awards, including the Worlds Monuments Fund Hadrian Award, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Louise du Pont Crowninshield Award, and the Garden Club of America National Medal for Historic Preservation.
One of the core values of his firm, Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette was to “have fun!” which he truly believed. How many nights did friends sit around until the wee hours of the morning singing show tunes and dancing around the house! He particularly loved watching Tar Heel basketball.
Mr. Jenrette was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph M. Jenrette and Emma Love Jenrette; his sisters, Betty Jenrette and Aileen J. Newnham (Fred); brother, Joseph M. Jenrette, Jr.(Helen); and life friend and partner, William L. Thompson. He is survived by his nieces, Betty N. Romberg(Carl), Nancy N. Reynolds, Helen J. Wooddy (Aubrey); and nephew, Joseph M. Jenrette, III (Catherine); and numerous great and great-great nieces and nephews.
Plans for a future memorial service will be announced. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Classical American Homes Preservation Trust at 69 E 93rd Street, New York, NY 10128 to keep alive his dream to preserve American beauty at its finest!