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
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
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.
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.