Lewis A. Lapham

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Lewis A. Lapham (left) and Roger Lapham golfing in 1930

Lewis Abbot Lapham (March 7, 1909[1]:301 – December 20, 1995[2]) was an American shipping and banking executive.

Life and career[edit]

Lapham was born in New York City,[1]:301 the son of Helen (Abbott) and shipping executive and future Mayor of San Francisco Roger D. Lapham, and the grandson of entrepreneur Lewis Henry Lapham.[3] Lapham attended the Hotchkiss School and went on to Yale University, graduating in 1931.[4] At Yale, he was a member of Skull and Bones.[5]:125

Roger Lapham was a founder of the Cypress Point Club golf course. In 1929, father and son played a foursome there with Bobby Jones and Francis Ouimet. This attracted a large crowd and frayed the nerves of the 20-year-old Lewis Lapham. After one successful shot by Lapham, Jones loudly asked which club Lapham had used and continued to solicit his advice in front of the crowd until Lapham's confidence was restored.[6][7]

Lapham worked as a journalist, columnist, and editor for the San Francisco Examiner for six years. In World War II, he was civilian executive assistant to the general in command of the San Francisco Port of Embarkation.[2] From 1945 to 1946 he was president of the Pacific American Steamship Association.[1]:301

Lewis Henry Lapham was a founding investor of the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company in 1899 and Roger Lapham served as its president until he stepped down in 1944 to run for Mayor. Lewis Lapham became its last president in 1947. Miscalculating future shipping rates, the company bought six new ships, but soon losses forced them to suspend shipping in 1953. Billionaire Daniel Ludwig was brought in as an investor and Lapham resigned and his family sold their holdings to Ludwig, who gained control of the company and eventually liquidated it.[1]:32, 301

Lapham became executive vice president of the Grace Line and in 1955 became its president.[2] He realized that J. Peter Grace was determined to get W. R. Grace and Company out of the shipping industry (Grace sold the Grace Line in 1969), so he left the company and the shipping business in 1959.[1]:229, 301 He joined Bankers Trust Company and served in a variety of executive and board positions until 1981.[2]

Lapham was married to Jane Foster for 63 years.[2] They had two sons, Lewis H. Lapham, long-time editor of Harper's Magazine, and Anthony A. Lapham, a lawyer for the Central Intelligence Agency.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e René De La Pedraja Tomán (August 1994). A historical dictionary of the U.S. merchant marine and shipping industry: since the introduction of steam. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-27225-7. Retrieved 4 August 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e Sloane, Leonard (December 22, 1995). "Lewis A. Lapham, 86, Executive In Shipping and Banking Concerns". New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  3. ^ []https://books.google.ca/books?id=JMrOAAAAMAAJ&q=Helen+Abbott+Lapham&dq=Helen+Abbott+Lapham&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiBydKbs8vhAhXO1VkKHb-zCIkQ6AEIFDAA
  4. ^ "PERSONNEL: Changes of the Week". Time. Jun 13, 1955. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  5. ^ Robbins, Alexandra (2002). Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power. Boston: Little, Brown. ISBN 0-316-72091-7.
  6. ^ Lapham, Lewis H. (June 2010). "Mayor Of San Francisco, Lord Of Pebble Beach". Golf Digest.
  7. ^ Lapham, Nicholas Payne (May 2007). "My Golfing Grandfather For my grandfather, skill and honor went hand in hand". Travel + Leisure. Archived from the original on 2012-04-04. Nicholas Payne Lapham is the son of Anthony A. Lapham.
  8. ^ Martin, Douglas (November 15, 2006). "Anthony A. Lapham, 70, Former C.I.A. Lawyer, Dies". New York Times. Retrieved August 5, 2011.