Hundreds Gather to Celebrate the Life of Trammell Crow, "A Man of Contradictions"

Hundreds gathered at Highland Park United Methodist Church this morning to celebrate the life of Dallas real estate tycoon Trammell Crow, who died in his sleep last week at a family farm in East Texas. The church's sanctuary was full nearly an hour before the 11 a.m. service, forcing others into the hallways and Wesley Hall to watch on television.

Shortly before the service, Harlan Crow helped organize more than three dozen family members as they prepared to enter the sanctuary, where his parents were married more than 66 years ago. "This is a happy day," Harlan said. "A lot of people have said kind words of condolences, but for the Crow family, this is a happy day."

Harlan described his father as a common man who refused to ride in limousines, never had a car better than a Buick or an Oldsmobile and bought his shirts at Wal-mart. He said Trammell saw possibilities that others didn't and had huge drive, but he never used it to run over people. Harlan also said Trammell had integrity that "went down to the bone."

Harlan said the love between Trammell and his mother Margaret was the "stuff of fairy tales." Trammell would claim he never had an argument with Margaret, Harlan said, and even though it wasn't true, that was part of his love.

"He couldn't be near my mom without holding her hand," Harlan said. "Even during the fog of recent years, when he did not know very much about what was going on around him, he always wanted to hold hands with mom."

Harlan also said his father called him his No. 3 boy. "I'm sure he meant that in a chronological sense."

The Reverend Mark Craig said he first met Trammell 14 years ago, but unfortunately Alzheimer's had already begun to affect him. Instead of shaking Craig's hand, Trammell gave him a bear hug, which Craig said took his breath away. Craig later met Harlan and became friends with him after realizing they had a common interest in collecting books.

Jim Carreker, former chief executive officer of Trammell Crow Co. and Wyndham Hotels, said Trammell gave people confidence in themselves. "We were doing things we didn't think we could do."

Carreker said Trammell was a great inventor, crediting him with creating the partner, which he said was born from Trammell's need to attract the most talented people without paying them the most money. But for all of Trammell's success in business, Carreker stressed that his greatest partner was Margaret.

Dick Bass, who was a member of a men's club in California with Trammell for more than 30 years, said he frequently joined Trammell on morning hikes, where they discussed poetry. He read one of their favorites, "If" by Rudyard Kipling.

Lucy Billingsley, Trammell's only daughter, described him as "a man of contradictions." She said even after more than a decade of Alzheimer's, Trammell would still ask what he could do for others. Billingsley cited a note she received from Trammell as a 15-year-old when she was at camp.

"The most beautiful words that were ever given to me, I give back to you," she said. "My love still exceeds my pride."

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sam Merten
Contact: Sam Merten