In Memoriam: Matthew Forrest
Belated News of 2005 Passing;
"One of a Kind" (Updated 05/19/08)
The CAA only recently learned of the passing of Matthew Forrest on May 5, 2005, at the age of 65.
Matt joined Chase in 1967 but left by 1974 to become Tokyo manager of the Crocker National Bank.
Tony Walton hired Matt back for the Chase Trade Banking Group. Walton remembers, "I took up the trade job in September 1979. John Ward and John Oakes persuaded
me that Matt would be the right person for Asia. FXS concurred. I
interviewed Matt, or vice versa, and he rejoined Chase in June 1980, I believe, leaving again in 1985.
"Matt traveled with me in planes in Asia with his pipe continually lit -- even when boarding, with it peeking out of his pocket, smoking. He wrote plans on napkins and once called me at 5 am on a July 4 to approve a Frank Hahn big deal," continued Walton. "I remember he once explained the meaning of all life to me in Bangkok. I loved working with him, as did we all."
Dave Zacharias recalls, "I was a lucky one in being able to instruct Matt on the principles of credit and loan structuring. The problem was that the student knew more than the instructor, and I am sure that Matt, with all his intellectual power and curiosity, had this issue with many of his teachers. He was a valuable addition to the Chase team and his memory will live on for a very long time."
The following is a remembrance from Roger Griffin:
Matt Forrest was a good friend of many of us from the old Chase and I was, as no doubt were many others, saddened to learn of his death in Scotland, the land of his ancestors.
Matt was a member of the same 1969 Chase credit program as me and, as a man of Scottish ancestry, I felt, as a neophyte and new arrival in �these United States�, a kinship toward him. Matt had been a supply officer in the U.S. Navy, as had my former roommate Bob Seibengartner, he of the impressively elastic American Express card, the wonders of which he introduced to me. (Better than a passport, he said, and so it proved.) Unlike Bob, I don�t think Matt had served in Vietnam, which, curiously, is where I am writing this. It was always a wonder to me how the U.S. Navy survived them both.
Other contemporaries were Tom Thomas, Bob Dangremond, John Oakes and Ed Henderson. Our �1� man was Rick Felix and the person in charge of our room (what was the title?) was Doug Werlinich. Other stalwarts of the program were John O�Connor and David Zacharias from the teaching staff, and Sing Chiu, Leon Desbrow, Chet Brauch and John Ward. My apologies to those my fading memory has failed to identify. Who knows what the sequence number of our class was, and who exactly was a member of which class, but Matt was an outstanding member and was, and remained, an iconoclast.
You see he just knew more than most of us, and what he didn�t know, he�d go off and figure out and come back with a complex explanation for. He�d fill his pipe, puff away, cover sheets of paper with abstract calculations and draw on an extraordinary memory for arcania. I never saw him stumped and noone I knew of ever did. He was an early convert to Tony Terraciano�s computer-driven spreadsheets, which most of us thought a waste of time. He could debate anything. He was one of a kind.
After the program, Matt went off to work for Chase in Tokyo. I lost touch with him until I joined the South East Asia team in 1975 and then went to Osaka in 1978. After I had moved to Seoul in 1980 and, I think, after he�d spent some time at Crocker Bank, he rejoined Chase as the Asia member of Tony Walton�s trade finance team. This made him a colleague of such stalwarts as Frank Hahn and Choi Dong Soo and provided opportunities for novel income earning opportunities � Martin Lukes would call it thinking outside the box. One, I remember, was to intermediate the flow of �10,000 yen notes left in Busan by partying Japanese visitors and ship them back to Tokyo and earn extraordinary margins. Somehow this didn�t fit the paradigm for which Tony�s group had been created, and it never went anywhere, though I�m sure, if we�d done it, we�d have made a fortune.
Eventually I returned to New York and Matt stayed in Tokyo, and I don�t know when he left Chase for the last, was it the second or third, time. I do know that I caught up with him again by e-mail some time in the early �90s. Using e-mail being one of the skills, along with learning to type, acquired in out-placement in 1990. Matt, an early adaptor of course, was now in the wholesale fish business in Tsukiji market in Tokyo, importing fish from the Kamchatka peninsular in eastern Russia. For those of you not familiar with Tokyo and Tsukiji, this was about as unlikely as a Korean being allowed to operate in the Fulton Fish market run by the Italians, where we�d all go down for a lunch of fresh shrimp and crab when in the credit department in 1969. How Matt achieved this and whether he made any money I don�t know � I�m sure there�s a story � but it was typical of the man.
I was at that time working in San Francisco in the travel and tourism business, covering the Asia Pacific region as the Soviet Union, and indeed Russia, was falling apart. I was looking for ways to promote eastern Russia as a destination and for hotels in which visitors could stay. Matt announced he was the nominal owner of the Hotel Red October in Petrapavlovsk-Kamchatsly as a front for the local apparatchiks, an apparently necessary adjunct to his access to fish supplies from Kamchatka. It was apparently considered more seemly by said apparatchiks that ownership of former state assets should be seen to vest in foreigners. He was the first �owner� of a hotel I ever met; you�ll recall there were two golden credit rules in Chase in those days � don�t lend on hotels and don�t lend to newspaper owners � and so there had been few opportunities. I asked Matt about life in there and he gave me an answer I�ll never forget. �Living in Petrapavlovsk is like living in Dodge City without Wyatt Earp.�
Matt, as I sit on my balcony looking over the Sumida River in Tokyo no more than half a mile from the Tsukiji fish market to which I frequently repair to feed my addiction to sushi, I�m sorry I lost touch. You were a good friend and one of a kind.
From Tony Lord: I was saddened to hear that Matt has passed away, and in my home country no less. Just to fill in a wee bit of Matt's career...I was sitting in my office at 72 Wall Street, which was the location of Crocker Bank International, when I was told by our receptionist that a certain Matt Forrest was here to see me.
When Matt walked into my office, not only was he puffing on his ever present pipe, but the smoke was exiting from, amongst other places, his ears. Matt was monumentally PO'd about something, and told me immediately that he wanted to apply for the job of Crocker's Japan Country Manager. To be honest, I've totally forgotten what had happened to Matt at Chase. However, I clearly recall trying to persuade him to sleep on this for a few days. I told him my experience when I resigned from Chase to join Barings in Hong Kong, and was very honest in saying that leaving Chase was the dumbest thing I ever did - I still feel that way today (and I've done many dumb things in my life before and since).
Matt wasn't even listening, and asked that I set up the necessary introductions for him. Of course I was delighted to open the necessary doors, and, for a while at least, Crocker National Bank had an outstanding person running its operation in Japan. Needless to say, in due course Matt saw the light and returned to "Mother Chase".
He was indeed one of a kind. This summer, the members of the Chase Alumni Association, Bend Chapter, will raise a glass to his memory.
From Cyrus Hui: "Reading the memoriam brings back many fond memories of Matt, as I had been one of the people closest to him at Chase, having worked under his "supervision" in Tokyo from 1974 to 1979 and then again in Hong Kong from 2001 to 2004, when Chase was "one big happy family" -- especially for those of us in Tokyo - Cushy, John Ward, etc.
"Matt was the most perceptive guy. He never "supervised", but our "Team C" was the most cohesive unit. Matt was capable of thinking the impossible, a most unorthodox guy who was not "banker-like". One characteristic of his that impressed all those with whom he came across was his complete sincerity and lack of ego.
"We had maintained close ties despite living in different worlds. The last time I saw Matt was in 2002, when I visited with him in Tokyo. He had moved back from Boston, where he spent some time. He had his own business of importing single malt whisky from small distillers in Scotland. For that, he travelled to Scotland several times a year. Matt was of Scotish decent,
his father, a naval architect, emigrated to the United States where Matt was born...Good Old Matt!"