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Paul Bancroft III


1930 - 2019 Obituary Condolences
Paul Bancroft III Obituary
Paul Bancroft III

Paul "Pete" Bancroft, III, the eldest great-grandson of Hubert Howe Bancroft, the noted historian of the West who created the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley, died of cancer on January 3, 2019, in his home in San Francisco. Bancroft was President and CEO of Bessemer Securities Corp. in New York, a substantial private investment firm, in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s. He was also a founding director and subsequent president and chairman of the National Venture Capital Association in Washington, DC. He was the only son of Paul Bancroft, Jr., of San Francisco and Rita Manning of New York City.

Bancroft was a pioneer in the Venture Capital Industry, having served as the youngest partner of Draper, Gaither and Anderson in Palo Alto from 1962 until 1967. He continued active in the venturing business in his later years, sponsoring an oral history collection program at the Bancroft Library entitled "Early Bay Area Venture Capitalists – Shaping the Economic and Business Landscape."

Born February 27, 1930, he graduated from Yale University (Dean's List) with a B.A. degree in 1951. Prior to that he prepared at Culver Military Academy. From 1951 until 1956 he did post-graduate studies at Georgetown Foreign Service Institute, served in the Department of Defense and, subsequently, as an officer in the US Air Force, stationed primarily in Korea and Japan.

Between 1956 and 1962 Mr. Bancroft was associated with two investment banking firms in New York -- Merrill Lynch, and, later, F. Eberstadt & Co. Thereafter, for the next five years, he returned to his native California as a general partner of Draper, Gaither and Anderson, one of the early venture capital firms.

In 1967 Mr. Bancroft joined Bessemer Securities Corporation, a large private investment company in New York founded by Henry Phipps, as Vice President in charge of Venture Capital investments. He was subsequently promoted to Senior Vice President, Investments in 1974 and then to President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director in 1976. He retired as CEO in 1988 but continued consulting and venture investing with Bessemer until the early 1990s.

Through the years he served on 30 or more corporate boards and also for three years as a Trustee of Carnegie-Mellon University. He was a founding Director of the National Venture Capital Association in the early 1970s, serving as President in 1976 and 1977 and then as Chairman in 1978. In 2018 he received its Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the industry.

Mr. Bancroft founded the Paul and Monica Bancroft Family Foundation, to which he devoted substantial time since 1989. He was also on the Board of the Friends of the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley for a number of years and participated broadly in the activities of that Library. In this latter connection he sponsored the collection of oral histories of early California venture capitalists both through arranging direct interviews and through obtaining donations of similar interviews of other early venture capitalists to the Library by members of the Western Association of Venture Capitalists and members of the National Venture Capital Association. He also helped sponsor the creation of endowments for the long term support of the Oral History Center and the Western Americana Program of the Library, two of its most popular and well followed programs.

Mr. Bancroft was a long time member of the Bohemian and Pacific Union Clubs in San Francisco.

Mr. Bancroft is survived by his wife, the former Monica Von Swogetinsky Devine, and has four children by a previous marriage (to Mae Godwin Bancroft), Bradford, Kimberly, Stephen and Gregory Bancroft, two step-children, Christina Devine and Leighton Devine, and five grandchildren. He resided in San Francisco, CA.

His family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations be made to the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley for the Paul Bancroft III Endowment.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Jan. 13, 2019
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