Billionaire Chicago businessman and philanthropist Jim Crown, 70, dead following race car accident on birthday

June 28, 2023
Ben Marquis

Jim Crown, a Chicago, Illinois-based billionaire businessman and philanthropist, passed away on Sunday at the age of 70 following an accident at a racetrack in Aspen, Colorado, according to the Western Journal.

The tragic death of Crown -- who in addition to his family-owned business was also a director for JPMorgan Chase and General Dynamics Corp., and was chairman of The Aspen Institute, among other things -- had just been at the White House last week as a guest at the extravagant State Dinner in honor of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Crown was also a big supporter of the Democratic Party and enjoyed close ties with current President Joe Biden as well as former President and first lady Barack and Michelle Obama, per the Journal.

Race car accident while celebrating birthday

The Colorado Sun reported that Crown, who is the managing partner of the Aspen Skiing Company, died on Sunday after the vehicle he was driving at the private Aspen Motorsports Park hit an impact barrier along the sides of the racetrack.

"The official cause of death is pending autopsy although multiple blunt force trauma is evident. The manner is accident," the Pitkin County Coroner's Office, in conjunction with the Sheriff's Office and Colorado State Patrol, said in a news release. "Due to the ongoing investigation, no further details will be released at this time."

Crown was in Aspen in part due to The Aspen Institute's hosting of the annual Aspen Ideas Festival this week. The Chicago-based businessman essentially split his time between the big city and the Colorado mountains and purchased a stake in the Aspen Skiing Co. in 1985, eventually buying out other owners in 1993, and since then has greatly expanded the company across the region.

"The Crown family is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Jim Crown in an accident earlier today," the company said in a Sunday statement. "The family requests that their privacy be respected at this difficult time. Further details regarding plans for a memorial to remember Jim’s remarkable life will be released at a later date."

Perhaps even more tragic, according to The Aspen Times, is the fact that Crown was celebrating his 70th birthday at the Aspen racetrack when he perished in the single-vehicle accident.

Had just announced private plan to reduce murders in Chicago

Another factor of potential interest in his untimely death is the fact that it was less than a month ago, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, that Crown had unveiled a rather "ambitious" plan to substantially reduce violent crime and murders in the Windy City.

Via his position as head of the Commercial Club of Chicago's Civic Committee, he had proposed a plan for other CEOs to join him in providing up to 10,000 new jobs and investments in the city's underserved communities, as well as to provide funding to help bolster violence intervention programs and local law enforcement agencies.

Crown's stated goal was to reduce Chicago's annual murders from nearly 700 down to around 400 within five years and as low as 200 within a decade.

Remembered by Biden and Obama

In a Monday statement from President Biden, it was noted that Crown, who had just been in attendance at the State Dinner, was a "thoughtful, warm" and "good man," who was "on the cusp of a new initiative, rallying fellow corporate leaders to commit to hiring people from communities that have been left behind and to be part of the solution to end gun violence."

A joint statement was also shared by the Obamas, who said, "Jim Crown was a pillar of Chicago who cared deeply about making our city a place where everybody can thrive. Michelle and I were also very lucky to call him a dear friend. We're heartbroken today, and we send our love to Paula and their wonderful family in this difficult time."

Per The Aspen Times, Crown is survived by his parents, Lester and Renee, six other siblings, his wife Paula, their four adult children plus an in-law, and two grandchildren.

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