My maternal grandfather was Henry Hamilton “Hal” Dewar of San Antonio, Texas. Hal Dewar was an investment banker, and a philanthropist around San Antonio and the South.
Hal grew up in Austin with his mother Mary Kinney Dewar after his father Hamilton Dewar passed away at an early age. Mary’s father (Henry Kinney) was an early resident of Austin, having arrived in 1849. Hal was a talented soprano vocalist as a boy, and his recitals were written up on two occasions by the Austin American Statesmen. He graduated from Austin High School in 1919 and the University of Texas in 1923.
After moving to San Antonio in 1924 he founded the investment firm Dewar, Robertson, and Pancoast where he was senior partner. He was president of the Investment Bankers Association of America and chairman of the National Association of Securities Dealers. Hal was a strong proponent of regulation of the securities industry.
During WWII he served on the National Committee of Securities Industries for War Financing. This was one of the organizations responsible for organizing national bond drives. From 1958 to 1961 Hal served as governor of the New York Stock Exchange. During this time, he hosted Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at a dinner for national business executives at the Economic Club in New York in 1959. This was during Khrushchev’s infamous tour of the U.S. when he banged his shoe on the rostrum at the UN and declared the Soviets would “bury” the West.
He penned a letter about his experience (below):
Another interesting read: View the CIA's file concerning the incident in the link below:
Hal was a regent for Trinity University, a trustee of Incarnate Word College, and a board member of the Southwest Research Institute, as well as the Southern Regional Education Board. He was a founding member of the Argyle Club in San Antonio as well as a member of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco. Hal was a bon vivant who loved fine wines and food, and he loved to travel.
He was also a passionate reader of Russian history and literature. He visited the Soviet Union on several occasions, including prior to the Second World War when Westerners were only rarely granted visas. He always kept a bottle of vodka in his freezer with a sprig of buffalo grass. He and his wife Hallie loved having their grandchildren at their house in Olmos Park in San Antonio, and they took them on jaunts around the city (most often the nearby San Antonio Zoo), as well as trips to the West Coast and Canada, where Hal’s family was originally from.
It is safe to say that my own fascination for Russia springs directly from “Granddaddy.” As I write this tribute to him, I look upon dozens of his books on Russian history and literature that came into my possession after he died in 1975.