ITWASSOOTED: Edmund de Rothschild, Dies At 93

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Edmund de Rothschild, Dies At 93

LONDON - Well-known British banker and horticulturist Edmund de Rothschild, who took a personal role in raising funds for a large hydroelectric power station at Churchill Falls, N. L., has died. He was 93.

De Rothschild, former chairman of N. M. Rothschild and Sons merchant bank, died Jan. 17 at his home in Hampshire, England, the family said. The cause of death was not announced.

He joined the family bank in London in 1939 and directed its operations after his uncle Anthony suffered a stroke in 1955. He was named senior partner in 1960 and elevated to chairman in 1970.

De Rothschild oversaw the family firm's evolution to a modern institution, ending its private partnership status in 1970. He served as chairman until 1975.

He has been described as being "a banker by hobby and a gardener by profession," like his father.

However, de Rothschild was closely involved in postwar reconstruction in Japan, and received that country's Order of the Sacred Treasure (1st class).

De Rothschild restored Exbury Gardens, a 105-hectare woodland garden which had been neglected after the death of his father, Lionel, in 1942. The gardens were opened to the public in 1955.

De Rothschild developed the Solent Range of Exbury deciduous azaleas, and produced several dozen rhododendron hybrids. He received the Victorian Medal of Honour, the highest award of the Royal Horticultural Society.

In his autobiography, "A Gilt-Edged Life," de Rothschild recalled that he was sometimes a target of anti-Semitism while he was in school.

He also related how his father was offended by a friend from Cambridge University who visited the family home and spoke glowingly of his visit to Nazi Germany.

The father wrote to the visitor's mother saying, "Your son comes to stay in my house, shoots my pheasants, drinks my champagne, smokes my cigars and tells me there is a lot to be said for Hitler."

Edmund de Rothschild is survived by two sons and two daughters from his marriage to Elizabeth Lentner, who died in 1980; and by his second wife, Anne Harrison.

The family planned a private funeral.
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