Fred Arnold, 77: lawyer, philanthropist and a 'prince'
By ROBERT DUFFY- St. Louis Public Radio
In late August, at a party in the Central West End, a dapper fellow, a lawyer named Fred Arnold, spoke warmly of his planned move to a new home in the neighborhood. Compared to his old but quite elegant digs in the suburbs, he saw life in the urban neighborhood as stimulating and exciting, and he appreciated the warm welcomes he'd already received.
On Monday, October 5, 2015, Mr. Arnold, a lawyer, civic leader and philanthropist, died at Barnes-Jewish Hospital before he was able to make the transition. He was 77 years old.
Fred English Arnold was a fifth-generation member of a Mexico, Mo., family, where his father, Charles Arnold Jr., operated the Arnold Funeral Home. Fred Arnold graduated from Harvard College cum laude with an A.B. in 1960, and his took his law degree from Harvard Law in 1963. At college, he was editor of the university newspaper, the Crimson, and also was the Harvard correspondent for The New York Times.
Fred Arnold was described as a "prince" by those who worked closely with him.
David Wells, a partner of Mr. Arnold at the Thompson Coburn law firm, said that going from Mexico, Mo., to Cambridge and to Harvard was quite a shock to young Fred. "He adjusted to it well - he called it his brief period of culture shock. In many ways it changed him."
Mr. Arnold served briefly in the U.S. Army. In 1964, after his service, he joined the firm of Thompson Mitchell Douglas & Neill as an associate. He was named partner in 1971, and served in that position for 35 years. Afterward, until his death this week, he became senior counsel to the firm, now called Thompson Coburn.
His long association with the firm and his active leadership within it involved a variety of clients and responsibilities covering corporate, financial, institutional and real estate matters. He represented corporations, banks, insurance companies and asset-based lenders in structuring and documenting term loans, lines of credit, construction loans and bankruptcies.
He assisted corporations and real estate developers in legal aspects of new developments. He served in a number of leadership roles within the firm, including service on the firm's management committee and its corporate department, of which he was co-chair.
Nancy Batson was his secretary for 42 years. "He was the most honest and ethical person I've known," she said, "other than my own father, and that is saying a lot. He was kind and considerate. and was the sort of man who went to the hospital to see people from the office when they were sick."
"He was a gentleman, polite, and from the old school," she said, "And proud of it."
"He had a fine mind," David Wells said. "He was very intelligent and he applied his intelligence not only to the law but also to his community and charitable organizations. People in the firm describe him as a prince. It is hard to do better than that."
Mr. Arnold was an active and thoughtful philanthropist, and for more than 40 years was a trustee of the Mary Rankin Jordan and Ettie A. Jordan Charitable Foundation. The foundation supports the Ranken-Jordan Bridge Hospital for children in Maryland Heights, and provides generous grants to other not-for-profit organizations, including St. Louis Public Radio.
He was chair of the boards of the Whitfield School and the Harvard Club of St. Louis, and a member of the boards of Central Methodist University, Fayette, Mo., the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, the Arts and Education Council of Greater St. Louis, MICDS, the old Noonday Club, the Nine Network (KETC-TV, Channel 9) and the Harvard Club in Naples, Fla., where he had a winter residence.
Mr. Arnold's wife, JoAnn Arnold, died earlier this year. She was a retired senior vice president at Emerson in St. Louis, and was advisor to Charles F. Knight and David N. Farr, both chairmen and CEOs of the corporation. She died as she and Mr. Arnold were cruising off the Thai coast on the SS Voyager.
Wells said, "He had a wonderful marriage to Jo. He said these were the happiest years of his life." At the West End party in August, Mr. Arnold said his wife's death affected him profoundly. He is survived by his children, Jane Arnold, Charles (Kate) Arnold and Susan (Drew) Kimball; his stepdaughter, Elisabeth (Brian) McCabe; and ten grandchildren and step-grandchildren. A sister, Ellen Wikle, died in 2013.
Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. at Lupton Chapel, 7233 Delmar, University City, on Friday, Oct. 9, and his funeral will be Saturday, Oct. 10, at 10 a.m. at Salem United Methodist Church, 1200 South Lindbergh Boulevard, Town and Country. Interment is at Bellefontaine Cemetery, 4947 West Florissant Avenue, St. Louis. In place of flowers, contributions may be sent to the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, 130 Edgar Road, St. Louis, Mo. 63119.