At age 81, BEN LOVE passed away on Friday, January 13, 2006. Ben F. Love was born in Vernon, Texas, in 1924, the only child of Nell Scott and Benton F. Love. His family returned to his deceased grandfather Henry Benton Love's family homestead near Paris, Texas, in 1932 during the Great Depression. Ben attended school in Paris, riding his faithful horse Billy 12 miles daily over the dirt, rutted road from the farm to and from West Paris Elementary School--especially memorable during North Texas' freezing winters--subsequently graduating as President of the Paris High School Class of 1941. When he turned 18, November 19, 1942, he walked from his University of Texas classroom to the Army Air Force recruiting office in Austin and volunteered, receiving his commission and wings from Ellington Field, Houston, in April, 1944. Three months later, he joined the 351st Bomb Group, 8th Air Force in England, and subsequently flew 25 combat missions against Hitler's Germany, concluding his B17 bomber combat tour with 11 combat decorations including the Distinguished Flying Cross and with the rank of Captain at age 20. Returning to The University of Texas after World War II, he met an intelligent, beautiful Theta, Margaret McKean. They were married in 1947 after they graduated from The University of Texas and immediately established their home in Houston. In 1948, he founded a manufacturing firm which he merged with a New York Stock Exchange company in 1962. He entered banking in 1956, first as an outside director and in 1965 as President of River Oaks Bank & Trust Company of Houston. In 1967, he joined Texas Commerce Bank-Houston, was elected President in 1969 and Chairman and CEO of Texas Commerce Bancshares in 1972, a position he held until he retired in 1989. During his time as CEO, Texas Commerce grew from one bank with $1 billion in assets to 80 banks and 7 foreign offices with over $20 billion in assets, achieving 65 consecutive quarters of earnings increases and rated by Standard & Poors as one of the USA's two (J. P. Morgan being the other) AAA banking organizations. In 1987, Texas Commerce and Chemical Bank of New York (now J. P. Morgan Chase) merged, which at the time was the largest interstate banking merger in the nation's history. Ben Love served as a director on 12 different corporate boards listed on the New York Stock Exchange during his banking and business career. His other activities included serving as Chairman of the Greater Houston Partnership, Chairman of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, President of Reserve City Bankers Association, Chairman of the Council of Overseers of the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Administration - Rice University, Founding Chairman of the Houston Host Committee that attracted the 1992 Republican National Convention to Houston, Director of The Mighty Eighth (Air Force) Heritage Museum in Savannah, Founding Chairman of the Texas Aviation Hall of Fame, Chairman of the Houston Grand Opera, President of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) - Houston and President of The University of Texas Ex-Students' Association - Houston. He was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. In 1975, The University of Texas honored him as a "Distinguished Alumnus." In 1983, Texas A&M University's Business School designated him as "Texas Business Executive of the Year." In 1989, he was inducted into The Texas Business Hall of Fame. Also, Ben Love was honored with the "People of Vision Award", "Key Houstonian of the Year" for 1982, Houston Holocaust Museum's "Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award" in 1995 and Rotary Club's "Distinguished Citizens Award" in 1995. The Greater Houston Partnership named him "Houston's Greatest Individual" in 2004. He served three terms as a member of the Federal Reserve Advisory Council and on the Board of Directors of the International Monetary Conference. Finance Magazine named him "Regional Banker of the Year" for 1975 and Financial World Magazine honored him as "Chief Executive Officer of a National Bank" for 1975 and again in 1980. In 1984, Dun's Business Month designated Texas Commerce Bancshares as one of the nation's five best-managed companies while under his leadership. He was a member of the Augusta National Golf Club (Augusta, Georgia), River Oaks Country Club (Houston) and the Alfalfa Club (Washington, D. C.). He was also a member of Allegro and of The Texas Philosophical Society. He is survived by his beloved wife Margaret, by his son Jeff Love and his wife Kathy, and their two children Benton III and Elizabeth and by his daughter Jan Love Simmons and her husband Tom, and their two children Jennie and Charles. There will be a family visitation on Thursday, January 19, 2006, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Geo. H. Lewis & Sons Funeral Home, 1010 Bering Drive, Houston, Texas. Services will be held at 2:30 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, 5300 Main Street, Houston, Texas on Friday, January 20, 2006. There will be a reception with family at the Fellowship Hall of the Church immediately after the Service. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, Texas 77030. Pallbearers are Stanford Alexander, Joe L. Allbritton, Daniel C. Arnold, The Honorable James A. Baker, III, Senator Lloyd M. Bentsen, Jr., Dan Breen, Mayor Roy Butler, Peter R. Coneway, The Honorable Charles W. Duncan, Jr., John H. Duncan, Peter J. Fluor, Frank Godchaux, Judge John L. Hill, Jr., Gerald D. Hines, Howard Horne, Sr., Dr. John R. "Jack" Hubbard, James C. Kennedy, R. Bruce LaBoon, Dr. Charles "Mickey" A. LeMaistre, Edmund McIlhenny, Dr. John Mendelsohn, W.A. "Tex" Moncrief, Jr., The Honorable Robert A. Mosbacher, Sr., Major General Lewis Lyle, USAF Retired, George A. Peterson, Edward Randall III, Jr., A. M. "Mike" Tomforde, Jr., J. Sam Winters and Michael B. Yanney. Honorary pallbearers are those staunch steadfast, loyal, productive, treasured friends with whom he was privileged to work at Texas Commerce Banks.
Published in Houston Chronicle from Jan. 15 to Jan. 18, 2006.