In Memoriam: Margaret Klein, 63

Served Chase on Four Continents

Margaret Klein, a 20-year-veteran of Chase Manhattan, died of ovarian cancer – which she'd battled for 15 years – on January 18, 2014 in New York City.

Born February 4, 1950 in Orange, NJ, she grew up in Maplewood and Short Hills, NJ and graduated from Kent Place School in Summit, NJ, and Wellesley College, her mother's alma mater, where she majored in art history.

Margaret was a pioneering woman in finance. Her Chase career encompassed 16 positions in five banking divisions on four continents, including assignments in London, Panama City and Johannesburg. Her last position was Division Executive/Managing Director of the Special Loan Division, where she was responsible for Chase's global non-real estate-related troubled loan portfolio. Margaret ultimately left Chase to become CEO/CFO of a near-bankrupt oil distribution company in Connecticut, which she restructured and brought back to life.

While Margaret was astute financially and a strong negotiator, her main priorities were family and friends. She had scores of very good friends on many continents, since she had a love for adventure and travelled widely from an early age to all parts of the globe. She kept in close touch with her family and friends and developed special relationships with their children. Margaret enjoyed the fact that her apartment in New York was a welcoming way-station for visitors from everywhere.

Margaret was passionate about women's rights, education, international affairs, environmental conservation and the arts and, through the family foundation she headed, supported many philanthropic organizations, including Trickle Up (an organization helping women around the world escape extreme poverty), Planned Parenthood, the American Museum of Natural History, Wellesley College and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Margaret is survived by her brother John E. Klein of Washington, D.C. and by her niece and nephew Jennifer Klein Seaman and Thomas Eddy Klein of New York City. She was pre-deceased by her brother Walter C. (Terry) Klein, Jr. Margaret is also mourned by her eight god-children.

A memorial service for Margaret was held at St. James Episcopal Church, 865 Madison Avenue (at 71st Street), New York City, on February 25 at 3 pm. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Margaret's memory to Trickle Up or to Planned Parenthood of New York City.

Read about Margaret on Bloomberg.

Read Trickle Up's tribute.

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From Jean Marc Bara: Margaret was one of the first persons I met at Chase; we were both on the same 1972 Credit Training Program class.  After a hiatus - we were assigned to different countries, Margaret in the UK, South Africa and Panama - we both returned to NY and re-connected. Margaret, together with Chuck Adams, was instrumental in keeping our Credit Class in touch over the years by organizing several reunions.
    After her passing I learned Margaret had been battling cancer for fifteen years. She never talked about her health, rather preferring to focus on others.
    Margaret had a very curious mind and a very broad range of interests. She was involved with several NFP, notably Trickle Up, and travelled at their service.  It was always a treat to catch up with Margaret on her travels and to have lively discussions on a broad range of subjects.
    Margaret also had a knack for matching people together. Several years ago, my wife and I were lucky to be invited to join a dinner group of Margaret's friends. Since then we saw Margaret and the group for dinner every one or two months. We count several very good friends who were introduced to us by her.  These friendships are a lasting reminder of how she touched our lives.
    We will miss her dearly.

From Charles Adams: Margaret was always the best of the consummate professional and gracious friend. She was an island of relevance, sincerity and information from the time we worked together in the credit training program to most recently when it was clear that something (cancer) was working hard to take her away. She has gone but the many fond memories of her hospitality, network centrality and highly valued views and perceptions remain. We celebrate her life and will continue to think of her until we too are gone.

From Eva Rushkevich Grundy: Margaret and I knew each other at Chase but did not become friends until we met in the mid-1990s post-Chase. From then until late October 2013 we saw each other monthly over lunch during which we discussed books, movies and plays, museum exhibits and her travels. She loved to hear what everyone was up to, never judged or gave advice unless asked, and relished company. She was an independent and strong woman, curious,enthusiastic and engaged.She was always happy when I saw her, always looking forward to an upcoming play, TV show or a board meeting at one of the organizations she supported. I did not know about her illness and her health never came up in conversation. She was too busy living each day, enjoying each day's activities and looking forward to small daily routines which made for a full happy life. Margaret cherished her friendships and enjoyed introducing groups of friends to each other. Her godchildren had a very special place in her world, she spoke of them almost every time we met, she enjoyed their company and the special relationships. And she loved meeting new people. About five years ago we started going to a monthly public lunch lectures at the Foreign Policy Association - Margaret always showed up with a notebook and took careful notes to review later, discuss with friends that evening at home, and to deepen her knowledge of specific current events issues. We had lively debates over the years on various political issues - and here she was very judgmental- she told me once that she didn't think we could remain friends based on how I voted in that year's presidential election, but friends we remained. Our last conversation was on the phone around New Years 2014 - her first question was tell me what's going on, what are you up to and how is the family. Not one complaint, and her voice was "smiling" on the phone. I will remember Margaret with a smile.

From George Zannos: I will remember Margaret for her character as well as her Chase career. In addition to being a smart and tough banker, Margaret was very social and adept in bringing together people with common interests. At dinners in her NY apartment and restaurant outings that she frequently arranged with former Chase friends, she orchestrated spirited conversation that highlighted her passion for the arts, exotic travel and philanthropic causes. She had a sense of decency that drew people to her and accepted with extraordinary grace and courage her debilitating illness. This vibrant and stoic woman will be missed.

From Ed Moran: Margaret was a "tough broad" (in the very best sense) with a tender heart. As has been said earlier, she took great pleasure in putting people together. The lady had a unique sense of humor. I'll always smile when I remember her.

From Judith Joyce Burr: Margaret and I got to know each other when I was her human resources business partner in the late 1970s. While we had many difference of opinion on how to handle a personal issue, we always worked out a professional solution that both of us felt was appropriate.
    As our professional relationships developed, we also developed a great friendship. There were times that we did not see each other for months or even talk on the phone for months but when we met our conversations would begin as if only seen each other five minutes ago. Margaret was full of life – she cared about people and ideas. Margaret is a friend I will miss dearly.

From Peter Gross: We didn’t know about Margaret’s fight with cancer. As recently as last October we made sure to sit together at the Alumni dinner at the India House in New York. We talked about family, friends and years gone by, but no word about her own fate. Sigrid and I are deeply saddened by her passing and our prayers are with her and her family. Margaret was in her mid-twenties when she joined me in our new office of CMOC in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1977. It was her first overseas assignment, and from the first day she was out to prove that women in finance and banking were there to stay. I attribute much of the success of our new venture to her drive and tireless efforts to establish new relationships and build a sound book of profitable business. She took on the male-dominated corporate world of South Africa by storm and maintained close personal relationships with many lasting a lifetime. I still have to smile thinking of the day when I told Margaret that I had joined the male-only Rand Club in Johannesburg, where women were only allowed on special occasions and had to enter the club through a side entrance. I would never hear the end of this. Apart from her professional side, there was the very engaging and personable Margaret, interested in people and families. In our office she was the mother of the company, always there to help and give, never take. It’s typical that of all the people and colleagues I have worked with, our daughters remember Margaret best. We will miss her.

From Simon Steward: I worked with Margaret when she was running the Corporate side of CMOC (Chase) in South Africa She was extremely focussed and very hard working – and smoked like a chimney! Many was the time that I returned home at 1 in the morning from either work on a deal or with a company, to a family that had long before gone to bed! Her corporate philosophy was simple – get close to them, by having a “few” drinks with the corporate FD and/or the Sales team and, in time, all will be revealed! Margaret could certainly hold her liquor well – far better at least than the corporate characters I have in mind , and me! We could be easily be ‘cracked open’ well before the middle of the long session! But , the way I have described her , it all sounds bad! But anyone who knew Margaret would also know how sharp she was intellectually and her wit was keen as well. She was great fun to work with but, in case that there’s any misunderstanding  Margaret was tough when she had to be. There were many times over the five years, or so, that I, or some unfortunate company, caught the rough side of her tongue although with the corporate she would be more diplomatic! I especially recall that Margaret had particular difficulty becoming a member of the all-male Rand Club – having rather , in those early days (1977), to entertain at the Club’s restaurant where the fairer sex was allowed! She was pragmatic in her acceptance of the reality of the day – but this soon changed. It had to! Margaret was a character and we will miss her greatly – as will the corporations in South Africa where she was the only woman marketing them from the finance sector. She was a rarity at the time .