Editor’s Note: In honor of David Rockefeller, who died Monday at the age of 101, here is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the February 1992 issue of U.S. Banker, the predecessor to American Banker Magazine.
The author, Fraser P. Seitel, was a senior vice president and the director of public affairs at what was then the Chase Manhattan Bank. Writing in the midst of a recession, Seitel advised readers to “lighten up” in order to connect with people, and held up several Chase chairmen from over the decades as examples of good-humored executives. ...
David Rockefeller, too, not only demonstrated a keen sense of humor as Chase chairman, but also displayed great graciousness, even in periods of stress.
At one memorable annual meeting, a rather soft-spoken shareholder in the back of the room asked Rockefeller what he thought of "the nation's crime rate."
The chairman strained to hear the question, hesitated just a moment, and finally said, "Well, I'm no expert, but I was speaking with the chief of police of the United States a couple of weeks ago, and I learned a bit about this subject."
Rockefeller went on for five or six minutes in what appeared a lucid and informed dissertation of the latest prevention techniques for muggings, robberies and assaults.
He would have finished, too, had not the same elderly stockholder jumped to her feet and yelled out, "Not the crime rate — the prime rate!"
Mr. Rockefeller laughed, the woman laughed, and the stockholders roared in appreciation.