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Donald W. Crowell, 69; Head of L.A. Brokerage Firm Crowell, Weedon

June 22, 2004|Josh Friedman | Times Staff Writer

Donald W. Crowell, head of the independent investment brokerage Crowell, Weedon & Co. in Los Angeles since 1967, died Sunday at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena after a long illness. He was 69.

Founded in 1932 by Crowell's father, Warren, and George Weedon, Crowell Weedon is one of the oldest and largest stock brokerages on the West Coast.

The firm has nine customer offices, all in Southern California, and its 20,000 clients hold about $7 billion in assets.

Crowell, an investor since his days growing up in Beverly Hills, graduated from Stanford University and earned a master's degree in finance there in 1958 before joining Crowell Weedon as a broker.

He ran the firm in the conservative tradition established by his father and Weedon.

"Wall Street always seems to be trying to find something to sell the public, but our job is to preserve assets and make them grow," Crowell said in 1997.

Colleagues remembered Crowell as a gracious, hardworking professional who led by example.

"He steered us on a straight-and-narrow path to true north, never deviating from the principle of serving individual investors," said his son, Andrew, who is chief operating officer of the firm and is expected to succeed his father as managing partner.

Competitor Ed Wedbush, of Wedbush Morgan Securities, said Crowell's firm has survived by avoiding scandal and focusing on customer service: "Donald Crowell, like his father, has been a symbol of ethical behavior," Wedbush said.

In the early 1970s, when Wedbush and Crowell met, about 20 Los Angeles brokerages were members of the New York Stock Exchange, but only three remain.

Crowell, who enjoyed musical theater, wine collecting and body surfing, met his wife, Suzanne, at Stanford.

They celebrated their 45th anniversary Thursday.

A San Marino resident, Crowell was active in area organizations such as the YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles.

At the office, he was always known for arriving early, answering clients' calls and staying late.

Douglas Christopher, head of research at the firm, said that on his way out at 5 p.m. Friday he met Crowell in the hallway.

"I told him, 'Hey Don, have a great weekend,' and he said, 'You do the same,' " Christopher said. "Then he stopped and wished me a happy Father's Day. I said, 'You too,' and that was it."

In addition to Suzanne and Andrew, Crowell is survived by another son, Donald Jr., also a partner at the firm; and four grandchildren.

A memorial will be held Thursday at 2 p.m. at Forest Lawn in Glendale.

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