Edward P. James
A Remembrance of Ed James (Dec. 1, 1942- Aug. 2, 2005)
by Kathy MaGaw
Chances are that if you met Ed James during his 10 years with The Chase Manhattan Bank (1979-90), he was just leaving one assignment for another. Ed had a kind of wanderlust about him that, when combined with his sense of adventure, made him a
man on the move.
The fact is, it wasn't all Ed's doing. He was recruited into the Retail Bank, then run by Fred Hammer. On the very day he reported for work, he was told that he would not be doing the job for which he was hired, but not-to-worry his skills were needed elsewhere. And so his hopscotch career with Chase began.
None of Ed's colleagues are certain of all the assignments that Ed held, but of this many we are sure: Ed started out in Retail Marketing. Next he moved out to Lake Success and reinvigorated Chase's Automobile Finance business by developing financing/leasing arrangements with the likes of Volvo USA. He then moved on to lead the Advantage Credit business, a check-driven line of credit that was part of Direct Response Banking. It was during this assignment that Ed turned 40, a milestone that was celebrated by his friends and staff filling his office at 1400 Union Turnpike with balloons. The only problem was that the offices in this building, being a converted department store with 18-foot-high ceilings, did not have individual ceilings. The walls merely ended at nine feet. Conversations, as well as helium-filled balloons, would rise and float all over the building, and so Ed's birthday celebration was shared with the staff of the entire building.
Later, Ed ran Chase's Travelers' Cheque business at 123 William Street in New York City. When the International Consumer business started up, Ed renewed his passport and headed overseas. His first stop was Rio de Janeiro, where he headed up the Brazil Branch, Loan and Credit Card businesses. The next stop was Milan, where he ran the Consumer Auto Finance and Leasing business. Ed's final tour of duty with Chase was running all of Chase's consumer banking businesses from his office in Hammersmith, just outside of London.
Ed traveled light, but a few things were MUSTS: his sons, Ed Jr. and Chris, as well as a photo collage of the 40th birthday party.
Being fast with a joke and quick to laugh even at himself, Ed had a knack for turning colleagues into friends. His true talent however, was maintaining the relationships long after he changed assignments or careers.
Ed left Chase in the first part of 1990 and moved to Maine working for a fleet car leasing company named Wright Express. Later he took a different job and relocated to Canada before reuniting with several former Chase colleagues at The Associates, a credit card company headquartered in Texas. For a brief period he worked for a venture capitalist in Bermuda but returned to The Associates, this time working out of Toronto. When Citicorp purchased the company, Ed "retired" and returned to Texas where he bought an interest in two Dallas restaurants.
One way that Ed stayed in touch with his friends from Chase was to ALWAYS attend the annual Paul G. Tongue Dinner that has been held on the first Thursday in December for 18 years. There he would laugh, tell jokes and relish the camaraderie of friends. It was just after the 2004 dinner that Ed learned that he was suffering from lung cancer. He passed away in early August.