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The father of a Chesterton man, Thomas H. Coulter, 92, who served as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry for 27 years beginning in 1954, and created the largest, most effective and prestigious chamber of commerce in the country, died Wednesday, Dec. 17 2003 at North Shore Rush Presbyterian St. Luke’s Hospital, a hospital he helped establish.

He was born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1911 and moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., graduating from Carnegie Mellon University in 1933. He competed in the 1932 Olympic Games and then attended graduate school at the University of Chicago, receiving a Master’s Degree in Economics in 1935. There he met Mary Alice, whom he married in 1937. She preceded him in death in 2000. To this day, sweethearts at the International House are referred to as “Coulter Couples.”

While attending the University of Chicago, he played for the Chicago Blackhawks with his brother Art Coulter, who is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

He is survived by a son, Thomas (Connie) Coulter II of Chesterton; 3 daughters, Sally (Jon) Veeder, Anne (Bill) Tobey and Jane (John) Chapman, all of Chicago; 9 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Coulter’s business career began in 1935 and for the next 20 years was engaged with Chicago enterprises in manufacturing and consulting before becoming Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry in 1954. It was at this point Coulter’s vision for Chicago as a worldwide center for trade came into view. He organized and directed six major international trade fairs including a visit by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip on the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. His vision of Chicago as a global city led to the creation of countless jobs, primarily through his efforts to promote international trade stemming from a 50-year exchange between American business professionals and their counterpart’s worldwide. His contributions included the establishment of, and contributions to, various civic and professional organizations concerned with business, industry, manpower, research, health, education and welfare. He was decorated by the Governments of Great Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Austria, Finland, Sweden and Japan.

He received the “Award of Merit” from Carnegie Mellon University for outstanding personal achievement in the field of business organization and the Citation for Public Service from the University of Chicago. His vision for Chicago will continue to be realized through scholarships he created and organizations he established, some of which have grown to be the largest of their kind in the country, including the Japan America society.

He served as the Director of the Chicago Tokyo bank for many years. He also served as president of the Executives Club of Chicago (1948-1953) and the Sales and Marketing Executives Club of Chicago (’48-’56).

A memorial service is being held at the Kenilworth Union Church, 211 Kenilworth Ave., Kenilworth, Ill at 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 27.

Memorial donations may be sent to the International House at the University of Chicago, 1414 E. 59th Street, Chicago, IL 60637 and North Shore Rush Medical Center 9600, Gross Point Rd., Skokie, IL 60076.


Posted 12/19/2003



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