Edmund de Rothschild

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Edmund de Rothschild, "who died on January 17 [2009] aged 93, was senior partner and then chairman of NM Rothschild & Sons, and a figure of international renown in horticulture, especially in the field of rhododendron and azalea plant hybridisation.

"Having joined the family bank at New Court, in the City, in 1939, Eddy de Rothschild became its effective head in 1955, when his uncle Anthony suffered a severe stroke. A partner from 1947, he became senior partner in 1960 and chairman of the bank in 1970, when NMR became the last London accepting house to relinquish its private partnership status.

"De Rothschild presided over the bank's transition from a highly conservative family firm to a modern institution, and over the demolition and rebuilding of New Court. He opened the partnership to non-family members, beginning with David Colville, brother of Sir John Colville, Churchill's private secretary.

"He stepped down as chairman of NMR in 1975, to be succeeded briefly by his second cousin Victor, the 3rd Lord Rothschild, and then by his first cousin Evelyn (now Sir Evelyn) de Rothschild...

"Edmund Leopold de Rothschild was born in London, at 46 Park Street, Mayfair, on January 2 1916, the first son of Lionel de Rothschild and a great-great-grandson of Nathan Mayer Rothschild, who established the English branch of the family, and the bank, in the early years of the 19th century...

"After Cambridge, in 1937 de Rothschild was sent by his father on an 18-month tour around the world, of which he published an account as Window on the World (1949). He went big-game hunting in Africa, rode horseback over the Andes, and motored across the Northern Territories in Australia...

"From 1952, de Rothschild's chief preoccupation was with what was then the most costly project ever undertaken by private enterprise: the development of the vast hydroelectric potential of the Hamilton (later Churchill) Falls in Labrador. Rothschilds led the consortium, and de Rothschild crossed the Atlantic more than 400 times over the 20 years the project took to complete...

"He also worked hard for charitable causes, in particular the Queen's Nursing Institute, of which he was a trustee, the Not Forgotten Association, and the Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen and Women, of which he was for many years president. He was a vice-president of the Council of Christians and Jews. He was a man of irrepressible optimism and good nature and saw only the best in others. He was trusting and generous to a fault. ..

"He held the Territorial Decoration, and was appointed CBE in the New Year's Honours, 1997. In 2005 he received the Royal Horticultural Society's highest award, the Victoria Medal of Honour.

"His autobiography, A Gilt-Edged Life, written with George Ireland, was published in 1998.

"Edmund de Rothschild married first, in 1948, Elizabeth Lentner, who died in 1980. They had two sons and two daughters. He married secondly, in 1982, Anne Harrison (née Kitching), the widow of one of his oldest friends." [1]

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  1. Edmund de Rothschild: Obituary, telegraph.co.uk, accessed June 16, 2010.