By the family
Sept. 29, 2021: Alfred C DeCrane, Jr., died peacefully on September 22, surrounded by family in his home in Vero Beach, FL, at the age of 90. The cause was complications from primary progressive aphasia, according to his wife of 67 years, Joan Hoffman DeCrane.
Born in Cleveland in 1931 to construction contractor Alfred C DeCrane and Verona Marquard, a homemaker, Mr. DeCrane attended Cathedral Latin School, where he graduated as valedictorian, working summers as a florist and delivering ice. He graduated magna cum laude from the University of Notre Dame, where he was named National Singles Debate Champion (and runner up in Extemporaneous Speech) his junior year. Upon graduation he was commissioned an officer in the US Marine Corps and married the former Joan Elizabeth Hoffman of Algona, Iowa, in 1954. With an honorable discharge from the Marines as Captain, he went to work for Joseph P Kennedy, father to the senators and president, as a speechwriter. Observing that Joe Kennedy gave his most interesting issues to the lawyers, Mr. DeCrane left to attend the Georgetown University Law School. He joined Texaco two years later and argued in front of the US Supreme Court at the age of 34. Referring to one case he presented, he told his family, “The good news is that the decision was unanimous. The bad news is we lost, nine to zero.”
Mr. DeCrane’s extensive international travel began early in his career with Texaco as OPEC (formed in 1962) began its evermore-assertive role in setting prices and controlling resources. He was on the frontlines as VP Production Eastern Hemisphere when the cartel began its oil boycott of the US and other nations in the 1970s. It was during these trying and volatile times that Mr. DeCrane learned he had been targeted to be kidnapped along with Saudi Petroleum Minister Zaki Yamani and three others from Yamani’s home outside Beirut in the early 1970s. Later, a Palestinian contact assured Mr. DeCrane, “Don’t worry, Al, they wouldn’t have hurt you.” This assurance most probably was a result of the respect Mr. DeCrane’s style engendered with allies and adversaries alike.
Mr. DeCrane was named Texaco’s general counsel in 1976, elected to the board the next year, and became president in 1983. In 1987 Mr. DeCrane was named Chairman of the Board and then became CEO in 1993.
Mr. DeCrane and his wife Joan never tired of caring for the community that embraced their family - Bronxville NY - throughout their very busy lives. They contributed to their church St. Josephs, and we’re strong supporters of Lawrence Hospital and the Maxwell Foundation. Five of their six children graduated from Bronxville High School where Mr. DeCrane gave a well-received commencement speech to the class of 1982.
Mr. DeCrane served on many corporate, cultural, and charitable boards, including but not limited to Best Foods, Cigna, Birmingham Steel, Harris Corp., and Dean Witter Discover. Both through his business and personal interests he was also a proud supporter of the Metropolitan Opera. He continued to consult for Chevron for several years.
Paramount among Mr. DeCrane’s many extra-business interests was education. He served as a Trustee at Notre Dame University for nearly three decades and was also a trustee of the American University of Beirut. He and his wife Joan established the DeCrane Foundation Chair in International Economics at Notre Dame, as well as the Joan Hoffman DeCrane scholarship funds at both Notre Dame and St. Mary’s College in South Bend, IN, Mrs. DeCrane’s alma mater. They had previously established a student scholarship fund at the Georgetown University Law Center in 1984.
On relocation from Bronxville, NY to John’s Island in Vero Beach, FL, he became an active sponsor and supporter of many charities including Habitat for Humanity, the Indian River Land Trust, the Woman’s Care Center of Indian River, and Food for the Poor, Inc. Retirement also afforded him and his wife more time to travel, spend time with their children and grandchildren and to participate in the numerous activities Mr. DeCrane enjoyed, including golf, sailing, cycling and gardening. He also enjoyed jigsaw puzzles, opera, ice cream, dogs and watching sunsets with his family from their cottages in Lake Okoboji, Iowa.
Alfred C DeCrane, Jr. was predeceased by a daughter, Stacie, and is survived by his wife, Joan, a brother, Vincent, sister, Clare and five children, David (Linda), Lisa (Alvaro), Stephanie (Paul), Sarah (Dan) and Jenny (Jon), 16 grandchildren and one great-grand child. The family requests in lieu of flowers donations be made in Al’s memory to Hope for Families Center Vero Beach Florida, Notre Dame University or a charity of your choice.