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James Crown, major donor to Jewish causes, dies in car crash at age 70

The Chicago billionaire was a board member of J.P. Morgan Chase and part of one of the city’s longstanding, influential families.

James “Jim” Crown. Source: Screenshot.

A Jewish leader in philanthropy, business and politics died while participating in a race at a motorsports park in Aspen, Colo.

James “Jim” Crown, 70, had led his family’s investment firm as CEO and inherited $10.32 billion upon acquiring it. He continued his family tradition of supporting a variety of Jewish causes, including the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago, Covenant Foundation and Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education.

“He had a love for the Jewish people, a love for Israel and really just wanted to make sure that we in Chicago were taking care of our most vulnerable, both Chicago’s Jews and Chicago writ large,” stated JUF president Lonnie Nasatir.

Crown supported Democratic candidates and was a board chair of the Aspen Institute. Walter Isaacson, Aspen’s former president and CEO, said Crown “had a deep sense of values.”

Nasatir described Crown as “very sweet and kind and very deferential and respectful.”

Crown earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Hampshire College in 1976. He went on to become president of Henry Crown and Company, a family investment company. He also served as a director of JPMorgan Chase & Co., General Dynamics and Sara Lee; and was the managing partner of the Aspen Skiing Company.

He is survived by his wife, Paula Hannaway; their four children and two grandchildren; along with his parents, Lester and Renée Crown.

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