Clarence Dillon

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Clarence Dillon
Born Clarence Lapowski
(1882-09-27)September 27, 1882
San Antonio, Texas
Died April 14, 1979(1979-04-14) (aged 96)
San Francisco, California
Citizenship  United States
Alma mater Worcester Academy
Harvard University
Occupation investment banker
Employer Dillon, Read & Co.
Spouse(s) Anne McEldin Douglass (wed February 4, 1908)
Children C. Douglas Dillon
Dorothy Dillon Eweson
Parent(s) Samuel Lapowski (1848-1912)
Bertha Stenbock (1862-1951)

Clarence Dillon (September 27, 1882 - April 14, 1979) was an American financier, and namesake of Dillon, Read & Co., an investment bank. In 1957, Fortune Magazine listed Dillon as one of the richest men in the United States, with a fortune then estimated to be from $150 to $200 million.[1]


Clarence Dillon was born Clarence Lapowski. His parents were Samuel Lapowski and Bertha Stenbock. Dillon's father was a Polish Jewish immigrant, likely born at Łomża, Poland in 1848. His paternal grandparents were Joshua Lapowski and Paulina Dylion, daughter of a Frenchman, Michel Dylion. Samuel Lapowski eventually emigrated to the United States.

In 1878, his father went to San Antonio, Texas and married Bertha Stenbock one year later. Stenbock was born 1862 in Denver, Colorado, the daughter of Gustav Stenbock, a Swedish immigrant, who was prospecting for lead and silver in the Colorado Western Slope.

In 1884, the family moved to Abilene, Texas. They became naturalized citizens in the Abilene District Court, on September 25, 1891, legally changing the family name to Dillon on September 17, 1901.[2] Samuel Dillon died in San Francisco, California, on June 23, 1912. His wife died in New York City, on January 1, 1951.


Clarence Dillon graduated from Worcester Academy and then Harvard, in 1905.[3]

Marriage and issue[edit]

On February 4, 1908, Dillon married Anne McEldin Douglass (b. September 26, 1881, Peoria, Illinois - d. November 8, 1961, Far Hills, New Jersey) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Anne was the daughter of George Douglass (Chillicothe, Ohio, July 19, 1843 - Milwaukee, September 29, 1919) and his wife and second cousin (m. near Lafayette, Ohio,[disambiguation needed] October 6, 1867) Susan Virginia Dun (near Lafayette, August 21, 1846 – Richmond, Virginia, January 8, 1937).[4]

Their son, C. Douglas Dillon (later Secretary of the Treasury, 1961–65) was born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1909. Their daughter, Dorothy, was born in 1913 and died on June 8, 2005 in Far Hills, New Jersey.[5] She was predeceased by her husbands, Philip Allen,[6] Sydney Shepherd Spivack [6][7] and Eric Eweson.[6]

Clarence purchased show dog Fontclair Festoon from Dody Jenkins. This dog would go on to win best-in-show at the Westminster Kennel Club in 1959. The dog was handled by Anne Rogers Clark.[8]


Dillon met William A. Read (1858 - 1916), founder of the Wall Street bond broker William A. Read & Company, through an introduction by his Harvard classmate, William A. Phillips, in 1912. Dillon joined Read's Chicago office in that year and moved to its New York office in 1914. Following Read's death in 1916, Dillon bought a majority interest in the firm. In 1921, company's name was changed to Dillon, Read & Co. [9][10]

A number of Dillon, Read partners served in senior roles in government, including Dillon and his right-hand man, James Forrestal, who served as Secretary of the Navy, and later, Secretary of Defense. During World War I, Bernard Baruch, Chairman of the War Industries Board, (known as the Czar of American Industry) asked Dillon to be Assistant Chairman of the War Industries Board.

Manhattan townhouse, built 1930

Dillon was a Francophile both because he had French origins and for his own personal tastes. In 1929, he purchased an apartment in Paris where he stayed a part of each year until he was well into his 80s.[11]

An oenophile as well. Dillon negotiated for months to purchase Château Haut-Brion from Bordeaux businessman André Gibert who had controlled the French wine producer since 1923. Dillon ultimately made the acquisition on May 13, 1935 for 2,300,000 francs. Dillon made Seymour Weller, who was the son of his wife’s sister, president of the new company, Société Vinicole de la Gironde, (later Domaine Clarence Dillon). Weller retired as President of the company in 1975. Dillon is said to have purchased Château Haut-Brion because it was his favorite wine. However Haut-Brion is also near Bordeaux, and good riding and hunting land surrounds the estate. [12] [13] [14]


  1. ^ Geisst, Charles, ed. (2006). "Dillon Read & Co.". Encyclopedia of American Business History. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  2. ^ Katharyn Duff, Abilene ... On Catclaw Creek (1969), p. 133
  3. ^ "C. Douglas Dillon, former Treasury secretary and Harvard overseer, dies at 93". Harvard University Gazette. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University News Office. January 16, 2003. Retrieved 2009-03-25. Dillon and his father, Clarence Dillon '05, also established the Dillon Field House Endowment. 
  4. ^ For her ancestry, see Harry Wright Newman, A Branch of the Douglas family with its Maryland & Virginia connections (New York: Doubleday, 1967).
  5. ^ Paid Notice: Deaths Eweson, Dorothy Dillon June 14, 2005
  6. ^ a b c Paid Notice: Deaths Eweson, Dorothy Dillon June 12, 2005 (New Times archives)
  7. ^ Mrs. Allen married to Sydney Spivak September 16, 1956 (New Times archives)
  8. ^ "Tributes to Anne Rogers Clark". Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  9. ^ Banking Firm Changes January 14, 1921 (New Times archives)
  10. ^ "William A. Read (1858 - 1916)". Central Trust Company of New York. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  11. ^ Agnès Lascève. "Bordeaux: Haut-Brion". France Today magazine. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  12. ^ "A Heritage of Excellence". Domaine Clarence Dillon. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Château Haut-Brion , a Family Affair" (PDF). The World of Fine wine. 2008. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 
  14. ^ Frank J. Prial (June 19, 1985). "Wine Talk". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2016. 

Further Reference[edit]

  • Geisst, Charles R. (2002) The Last Partnerships: Inside the Great Wall Street Money Dynasties (McGraw-Hill) ISBN 978-0071413176
  • Perez, Robert C. and Edward F. Willett (1995) Clarence Dillon, a Wall Street enigma (Madison Press Books) ISBN 9781461713838
  • Sobel, Robert (1991) The Life and Times of Dillon Read (The Penguin Group) ISBN 978-0525249597

External links[edit]