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    Post: Huffington Post~Melinda Balllard's Father Passed Away

    Posted by Sharon on 2/16/10

    I bet there are a lot of people on this board who do not
    understand where Melinda got her salt and tenacity to stand
    up for what is right. Here is the answer.

    Huffington Post.
    Andrew Reinbach: Claude M. Ballard, Jr. -- Rest in Peace

    Claude M. Ballard Jr. died on Friday, Feb. 11th . Why isn't
    important; he had to go, and we are here. Those who knew
    him, and valued his friendship, will miss him.
    I will. Every journalist with an established beat has what
    they call in New York a rabbi -- somebody who vouches for
    them, steers them in the right direction, and warns them
    when they're heading for the rocks. When I was covering the
    big-time real estate business in the 1980s, Claude was
    mine. He opened doors for me, all over the world, that I
    might not have even have known of. I owe him.

    To people outside real estate, Claude's name doesn't mean
    much. But in that world, Claude was a great man -- one of
    the handful of people who make things move. Attached to
    some project or idea, his name was all that was necessary
    to attract respectful attention.

    He earned that position by being a walking real estate
    computer, data base, and Rolodex. But what really earned
    him his place was...being Claude. A big six-foot-three,
    Claude was overwhelming. Nothing, and no one, could buffalo
    him. And in a business filled with over-sized
    personalities, that is a valuable commodity. Even sitting
    at a table, saying nothing, everyone knew he was there.

    That wasn't his best quality, though; his best quality was
    that he knew that every one -- and no one -- is important.
    So he treated everybody the same -- straight on, one to
    one. Claude never gave himself airs or acted like he was
    important -- though he certainly was. He had the gift of
    meeting everyone straight-on. Maybe that was because he was
    a self-made man, son of a Memphis railroad traffic

    Considering he'd survived at the pinnacle of the national
    and international commercial real estate industry for 50
    years, I'm sure he'd had his share of knock-down meetings --
    probably more than his share. And I know that if he'd
    wanted to, he could have had me for breakfast, and not even
    known I was on the spoon. But in the 30 years I knew him, I
    never saw him push anybody around.

    The heights Claude reached, and lived in, never went to his
    head. It could have. He was a general partner of Goldman
    Sachs, back when it was a private partnership; chairman of
    Rockefeller Center Properties; in retirement, he owned
    interests in, among other things, 88 malls, plus other
    properties; served on many boards; and lectured at the
    nation's top schools. But he had no appetite for luxury,
    excess, or display. In his days at Goldman he kept no limo.
    Taking the subway to work was good enough for him.

    If he said a deal was good, people didn't question it.
    Sometimes, a project he sponsored was subscribed in an
    afternoon. And he was so good at what he did that the same
    people who'd sat across the table from him in a deal would
    hire his services after it closed -- they knew nobody could
    possibly do a better job.

    Until he left Goldman, Claude had only worked for two
    companies -- Prudential Insurance, and Goldman Sachs. After
    he retired, he served on the board of CBL& Associates, a
    major mall owner.

    He started at Prudential as an analyst in 1948, and when he
    left in 1981 he was senior vice president in charge of
    commercial real estate. Along the way he and a friend,
    Meyer Melnikoff, laid the foundation of pension fund
    investing in real estate. Before this, pension funds only
    invested in stocks, bonds, and U.S. Treasuries: Today,
    they're the backbone of large-scale real estate investing
    and ownership.

    And it was Claude and his friendships that made Goldman
    Sachs the dominant real estate investment banking house in
    the 1980s. Those were the sort of things that made him, in
    his time, one of the acknowledged leaders of his industry.

    But that's all to one side. Real estate will go on, and so
    will the world. What will take a pause, however, is the
    world Claude informed -- the world of his wife, Mary, his
    daughters Karen, Melinda, and Robyn, his grandchildren, and
    his many friends.

    As I said, he had to go, and we are here. Those of us who
    knew Claude will know he is no longer among us.

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