James A. Elkins, III Endowed Presidential Fellowship in Finance

May 10, 2011 | EPS/EPF

James A. Elkins, III, businessman, prominent figure in the Texas Medical Center, and a member of one of Houston’s most powerful families, was born May 21, 1952 in Houston. His grandfather, James Anderson Elkins, Sr., co-founded the powerful and politically-connected Houston law firm Vinson & Elkins.

Jim received his bachelor degree in economics from Princeton University and an MBA from UT. While he was accepted to Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, Jim had the good sense to choose The University of Texas as the place he wanted to earn his MBA. Jim valued his experiences at The University of Texas Graduate School of Business (now the McCombs School) and excelled in business throughout his life. His banking career began at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company in New York, after which he had a career at First City National Bank in Houston. Jim was then chairman of Houston Trust Company, which he founded in 1992.

Along with a successful business career, Jim sat on the boards of many civic and cultural organizations. Jim acted as director of several boards and always helped steer the organizations in their financial matters. He served at St. Luke’s Methodist Church for several years on the Board of Stewards. He also made significant contributions to the civic, business, and cultural life of Houston. He was a trustee or director of numerous organizations including: Texas Children’s Hospital (chairman), Methodist Hospital, Baylor College of Medicine, St. John’s School (chairman), Houston Parks Board (chairman), Salvation Army, Trees for Houston, Rice University, Houston Zoo, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Center for Houston’s Future, Children’s Museum of Houston, and the Wortham Foundation.

James A. Elkins, III
Jim was married to Jenny Arnold Elkins for 25 years. Together they had seven children: Margaret Wiess Elkins, James Anderson Elkins, IV, Buck Arnold Elkins, John Caldwell Elkins, Harry Carothers Elkins, Samuel Hill Elkins, and Lucy Gray Elkins.

Former Mayor Bill White says, “Elkins’ death leaves a large hole in Houston’s civic leadership. He was at the epicenter of what some call ‘old Houston,’ and he embraced those relative newcomers, including me, based not on pedigree but willingness to serve. Thoroughly Texan, he never affected the manner of an urban cowboy. In an age of indulgence, he was always measured. All civic leaders trusted his judgment and confidence.”

“He was one of the most remarkable individuals I’ve ever known,” says Joe Dilg, who first met Elkins while they were at UT, “especially how he gave himself to others through giving to the community. He was a truly wonderful husband, father, and friend.”

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