Seeing for more than a week the almost never-ending reports on the shocking death of Princess Diana eventually brought reminders of noted figures in the pension industry who have died in recent years.
Their deaths didn't draw the outpouring of grief displayed for the princess by millions of flowers covering the streets in London. Whose death ever had before? But their deaths were losses to the pension investment community, touched in its own small way by their passings. It is a fitting time to remember them.
In the spring of 1986, Ann P. Frenzen left Value Investors Inc., Des Moines, to join Peregrine Capital Management Inc., Minneapolis, as senior vice president-marketing. A short time later she was killed in an auto accident. In 1987, Jesse M. Unruh, California state treasurer and impetus behind pension fund shareholder activism and the Council of Institutional Investors, died of cancer.
In 1988, George W. Lehr, executive director, Central States, Southeast & Southwest Areas Pension Fund, who was instrumental in restoring the credibility of the formerly corrupt Teamsters fund, died of cancer. A plaque in tribute to him now graces the entrance to the fund's Rosemont, Ill., office.
Early in 1989, Jeffrey Nichols, managing director-marketing, Criterion Investment Management Co., Houston, committed suicide after taking the lives of his wife and daughter. Later that year, Richard C. Kiene, former president of Kiene Wooters & Associates Inc., Minneapolis, who after losing a lawsuit against a former partner was negotiating a settlement, died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
In November 1990, Daniel E. O'Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of ULLICO Inc., the Washington-based holding company of Union Labor Life Insurance Co., died of a heart attack while attending Mass at St. Luke's Catholic Church.
In August 1991, John Chenoweth, who resigned as director, Minneapolis Employees' Retirement Fund over a scandal involving $200 million in investment losses, was found dead, shot four times.
In March 1992, Thomas C. Mikuta, vice president-client services, Avatar Associates, New York, was killed in a USAir crash in New York. Mr. Mikuta left a pregnant wife and a 2-year-old child. In 1993, Aruna S. Ramamurti, who had been chief investment officer-equities for the California State Teachers Retirement System, was hired by the Amoco Corp. pension fund to manage an internal quantitative equity portfolio. She died several months later.
In 1994, Wardell Lazard, founder and managing principal, WR Lazard & Co., New York, was found dead in a Pittsburgh hotel room of a cocaine-induced trauma.
In February 1994, James O'Leary III, senior executive vice president in the Chicago office of Callan Associates Inc., died of cancer. In November 1995, Robert B. Russell II, chief operating officer and treasurer, Investment Counselors of Maryland Inc., Baltimore, died in a car accident. A son, Edward, also was killed.
In January 1997, Roger Bransford, managing director, Watson Wyatt Investment Consulting, Atlanta, was killed in a plane crash during a snowstorm near Detroit. In February 1997, Martin Slate, executive director, Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., died of a heart attack. Among others, in March 1985 Paul J. Kole, who had recently left as chief financial officer of the Chicago Transit Authority pension fund to start his own consulting firm, died of a heart attack. The CTA was his first client.
In a way, the deaths bring together a reminder of both the prose of work and the poetry of life. Words of the poet John Donne could become a requiem for them and crown of a more poignant sort of asset allocation: "No man is an island entire of himself. Every man's death diminishes me."