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Statement from Robert Kraft on passing of James Busch Orthwein

New England Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft offers a statement on the passing of former Patriots owner James Busch Orthwein.

Statement from Robert Kraft on passing of James Busch Orthwein

"I didn't know James Orthwein well, but I did share one of my life's most memorable moments with him and my family back on January 21, 1994. That was the day that I purchased the New England Patriots from Mr. Orthwein. I have a great black-and-white photo of the two of us sitting at a table that day with my entire family standing behind us. It is a day that I will never forget and a memory that I will always cherish. On behalf of my family, I would like to extend sympathies to the Orthwein family."

James Busch Orthwein * 1924-2008
By William C. Lhotka
Sunday, Aug. 17 2008

James Busch Orthwein took a St. Louis advertising agency to worldwide status. He fished off the coast of Bimini with Ernest Hemingway and set worldwide fishing records. He owned a National Football League team and was a player in the arrival here of the Rams.

Those were only some of the hats worn by Mr. Orthwein, who died Friday (Aug. 15, 2008) at his home in Huntleigh after a long battle with cancer. He was 84.

Mr. Orthwein was the son of Percy and Clara Busch Orthwein. His mother was the granddaughter of Adolphus Busch, one of the founders of Anheuser-Busch. Mr. Orthwein was a member of the brewery's board of directors from 1963 to 2002.

Prominent St. Louis lawyer and family friend Walter Metcalfe said of Mr. Orthwein:

"Jim was a private man who thrived as a fisherman, outdoorsman and painter. Yet he understood business and he had an enormous talent to see what was important and then connect his product, be it candy or cola or beer or the then-broken and ridiculed Patriot franchise, to the public."

Born in St. Louis, Mr. Orthwein attended Country Day School; the Choate School in Wallingford, Conn.; and Washington University.

In 1947, Mr. Orthwein became an artist with the D'Arcy advertising agency that his father had helped to found three decades earlier. He took over the firm in 1970 and soon moved to make it a player on the international stage.

Sumner Charles, of Ladue, a D'Arcy executive, said Mr. Orthwein, in effect, created D'Arcy MacManus & Masius - also known as DM&M Worldwide - with mergers of the St. Louis company and firms in Detroit and London.

"He was very capable, very creative; he was a great leader," Charles said, adding that the agency's accounts included not only the brewery but Coca-Cola, Mars Candy, General Tire and the corporate, Pontiac and Cadillac divisions of General Motors.

"At one time we were ranked as high as No. 8 in the world," Charles said.

In November 1985 - two years after Orthwein's retirement - D'Arcy merged with Benton & Bowles of New York to form D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles, with corporate headquarters in New York. It was acquired by Publicis of Paris in 2002.

After retiring from advertising, Mr. Orthwein co-founded and headed Precise Capital, LP, a private investment partnership.

Mr. Orthwein was an avid deep-sea fisherman, and one of his acquaintances was writer Ernest Hemingway, whom Mr. Orthwein described as difficult to get to know in a Post-Dispatch interview in 1990.

Mr. Orthwein held three world records for bonefish, said Charles, off the Australian coast, Mr. Orthwein caught a black marlin that tipped the scales at more than 1,000 pounds.

An avid horseman, Mr. Orthwein was master of the hounds at Bridlespur Hunt Club for 35 years. He was also a member or the Missouri Horseman's Hall of Fame. He helped raise more than $1 million in horse-show related charities, he confirmed in the interview in 1990.

As a leader at Bridlespur, Mr. Orthwein pulled off one of the most successful practical jokes, says Florence Shinkle, a retired Post-Dispatch reporter and a family friend.

In 1962, Mr. Orthwein introduced to the horse crowd in top hat and tails Lord Forkingham of Duncington, who then got the royal treatment from members of the hunt club.

But the Lord was really Russell Forgan, a New York stockbroker, whom Mr. Orthwein had recruited to play the role. So believable was Forgan that Mr. Orthwein was afraid to tell anyone at the hunt club about the charade, Shinkle said.

"Jimmy used to say the joke was so successful that he felt like the priest who shot a hole in one on Sunday - he was afraid to say a word," said Shinkle, who wrote about it for Bridlespur's 50th anniversary. Stephen Birmingham also wrote about it in his book, "America's Secret Aristocracy."

In 1992, Mr. Orthwein bought the floundering New England Patriots. He sold the team two years later to its current owner, Robert Kraft. Mr. Orthwein had hired Bill Parcells as the Patriots' head coach, and the team had drafted Drew Bledsoe as its quarterback. The team made the Super Bowl after the 1996 season.

Mr. Orthwein played a role in the arrival of the Rams in St. Louis from Los Angeles. He had owned 65 percent of the stadium rights and donated his ownership of those rights to FANS Inc., the nonprofit group that persuaded the Rams to move here.

Besides his outdoor activities, Mr. Orthwein was also an accomplished artist. He would send Christmas cards every year, Charles said, to his friends with his portraits of animals and horses. His favorite, Shinkle said, was a portrait of his horse, Beau Laurin.

Funeral services will be private. Among the survivors are his wife, Loris; two daughters, Katherine Snowden of Ladue, and Romaine Orthwein of New York; two sons; Percy Orthwein and James Orthwein of Delray Beach, Fla.; nine grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to Ducks Unlimited, One Waterfowl Way, Memphis, Tenn. 38120; the Humane Society of Missouri, 2301 Macklind Avenue, St. Louis, Mo. 63110; or a charity of the donor's choice.

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