Remembering Preston Robert Tisch
I will always remember Bob Tisch as
he sat at lunch with me at the Regency, recovering from neurosurgery
and dynamic as ever. “Hi Tiki,” he called to
the football great from across the room in the midst of answering
my questions about his early days in Lakewood, light years
away from the sophisticated hotel he now owned. It seemed
that everyone entering for lunch that day in the nearly packed
Regency restaurant on Park Avenue in Manhattan came to pay
homage to Bob, asking about the Giants, the family, Bob’s
health or some incubating business deal.
While eating and answering questions, Bob kept a sharp
eye on the room, signaling the hostess to come over to ask
why patrons were not being seated more rapidly. We spoke
of his commitment to rebuilding athletic fields for every
school in New York City and the local community pride that
ensued following his successful endeavors in raising more
than $130 million.
Tisch family philanthropy is legendary: from the NYU Tisch
School of the Arts and the Tisch Library at Tufts University
to “Take Back the Fields.” The latest Tisch benevolence
is the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University.
Bob contributed to the life of the community in many other
ways: as U.S. postmaster general, NYC ambassador to Washington
DC, Chair of the NY Convention and Visitors Bureau and co-owner
of the NY Giants. Bob and his brother Larry, captains of
industry, owned the Loews Hotel chain as well.
month ago, Laurie, his only daughter was awarded the Town
Hall Medal in recognition of her founding and funding the
Center for Arts Education and the Children’s Museum
of Manhattan. Bob’s absence at the family table was
palpable, signaling declining health.
He died just a short time later with his entire loving
family gathered round. His New York City granddaughters visited every day during his last months,
one traveling in daily from Yale University. His son Steve
moved from Los Angeles to New York to be at his father’s
side for the last six months and share in the Giants operation
with brother Jonathan.
During a visit to pay my respects to the family after his
death, Laurie and her daughters were wearing a precious gift
from Bob: gold and diamond necklaces commemorating the New
York Giants going to Super Bowl XXXV in 2001. On the Sunday
of my condolence visit, the team won. Bob would have reveled
in the thought of his family savoring the victory of his
team and the sport he loved so much, symbolic of the victory
of his life, triumphant in the legacy he left behind.