Tom Killefer; Former CEO of U.S. Trust Corp.


Tom Killefer, a banker, attorney and federal government official who served six years as chairman, president and chief executive officer of U.S. Trust Corp., has died. He was 79.

Killefer, who retired as head of the New York-based investment firm in 1982 and left its board in 1989, died Sunday in Portola Valley, Calif., of cardiac arrest.

A Republican, Killefer was appointed by Democratic President John F. Kennedy in 1962 as executive director of the Inter-American Development Bank. He also served on the U.S. Commission for Germany in the early 1950s, as an economic advisor to U.S. delegates to the United Nations and as representative of the U.S. Maritime Law Assn. at the 1958 Geneval conference on international sea law.

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Hermosa Beach, Killefer attended Stanford University, where he played varsity baseball and was elected student body president. He earned his law degree at Harvard and was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University in England.


A World War II hero, Killefer was a Navy pilot with the “Skull and Crossbones” fighter squadron and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Navy Air Medal and a Purple Heart.

Before joining U.S. Trust, Killefer served as general counsel, chief financial officer and executive vice president of Chrysler Corp. He also headed the board of directors of the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the board of Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital.

Killefer served as a trustee of Stanford and the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, and worked with the Atlantic Council of the United States, the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and the Community Foundation of Santa Clara County.

He is survived by his wife, Carolyn, four children and four grandchildren.