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.
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 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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