From Metamorphoses: Memoirs of a Life in Medicine -- Raising the Money

William G. Anlyan, MD

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Disque Deane

Another major donor was Disque Deane. We first met in the early seventies. Deane had made his money as a senior managing partner of Lazard Frères; he had also been in the real estate business around New York as well as in other parts of the hemisphere. John Thomas, of my fund-raising staff, had identified him as a potential donor. Deane at that time was living in a midtown Manhattan townhouse. He was a Duke alumnus but had not been connected to Duke in any way since his graduation.

He agreed to give a small dinner party in my honor, and John Thomas and I were to arrive at his house around 6:30 p.m. That particular day was an especially hectic one because I had just finished working on details of a possible Whitehead Institute at Duke University with Jack Whitehead and his consultant, Jim Shannon, the former NIH director. We got to the airport, only to find that Eastern Airlines had canceled our flight; the best we could do was take a United Airlines flight that landed in Newark considerably later than the appointed hour. We alerted Disque that there would be a delay in our arrival, that we did not know the magnitude of that delay, but that we would keep him informed. Unfortunately, he did not hang up the phone, so when we tried to reach him in the ensuing hours, the line was busy.

When we finally boarded the United Airlines flight, we realized that Dr. Shannon had been helping himself liberally to the alcoholic refreshments in the Eastern Airlines lounge. He continued to ask for refreshments while on board. We got to Newark about 8 p.m. and found a cab willing to drive us to Manhattan. When I noticed the cabdriver taking the Pulaski Skyway instead of the Lincoln Tunnel, I asked him why he was doing that; he said he was a Cuban refugee and had never actually driven this taxi into New York. We managed to get to Jim Shannon's apartment, which was near the Deanes' house, and get him into it, then dropped off Jack Whitehead, and proceeded immediately to the Deane home.

By the time we got there, around 9:15, Disque Deane had become annoyed at not hearing from us. He had been wearing evening clothes, but he was already in his bedroom changing into his nightclothes. His wife was sitting alone at the head of the table. The help who were to serve the meal were upset because they had opened the wines at just the right time to be served, and the dinner itself was partially burned. The saving grace was that when we explained that the phone must be off the hook, Deane checked, and indeed it was. So we stumbled through the rest of the evening. I was never so glad to get into a hotel and into bed. Shortly afterward, Terry Sanford appointed Disque Deane to the Duke University Board of Trustees, and he would come to meetings once in a while.

Disque came to the groundbreaking ceremony and the luncheon for the Bryan Research Building for Neurobiology, having been invited along with the other trustees. That afternoon, he appeared in my office and said he would like to talk to me the next time I was in New York because of his intense interest in neurobiology. At some point he had been or was a trustee of Rockefeller University, which no doubt fed this interest.

I made sure that I would be in New York within a couple of weeks. He consented to see me, but when I appeared in his office, he apologized that he had forgotten that this was the day he was hosting his annual office Christmas party at the floating restaurant on the East River, and asked if I would mind going with him. Three hours later, after a massive luncheon and dancing with all the secretaries, I thanked him and left it that we would schedule another visit to get down to the business of neurobiology.

After the first of that year, Duke President Terry Sanford and his major fund-raiser, Joel Fleishman, decided to initiate an endowment campaign for professorships in the arts and sciences. I was informed that Disque Deane would no longer be on my list of potential donors, but that he would be assigned to Joel Fleishman. In the ensuing many months, Joel spent a lot of time cultivating Mr. Deane for a series of professorships in the Institute for Public Policy. Mr. Deane never quite understood what the main thrust of the program was to be, and he was frustrated because his primary interest continued to be in neurobiology. Finally, Joel arranged for a substantial press conference and an announcement of a $20 million pledge from Mr. Deane--who told me later he did not know what he was signing when he was rushed into putting his name on a document. From then on, he was extremely hostile to and angry with the Duke Campaign for the Arts and Sciences.

The university's announcement had included the statement that the $20 million pledge would make Mr. Deane the biggest single contributor to Duke University in the private field. This alienated Joseph Bryan, who felt that, next to James Buchanan Duke, he had been the largest contributor to various causes at Duke. So I had to put out the fire with Mr. Bryan and mend that fence. Subsequently, after Disque Deane had been written off by the university, I was handed back his folder.

For a few years I visited Mr. Deane on a regular basis when I was in New York. At times he would get very angry with me, because I was a symbol of Duke University, and he would recite all the problems he had had with the staff of the university campaign. At some point I put him in touch with Allen Roses, chief of neurology, and they developed a good relationship. Mr. Deane initially gave us three $1.5 million professorships. Beyond that, he established the Deane Laboratories in Neurobiology in the Department of Medicine for another $6-7 million.

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