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[Last name, First name], Oral history interview conducted by [Interviewer’s First name Last name], [Month DD, YYYY], [Title of Collection], [Call #]; Brooklyn Historical Society.
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Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan
November 20, 2008
Call number: 2008.031.3.008
0:00 - Introductions; resuming with a post-college timeline: government service in Albany and Washingon (early to mid-'70s), litigator at law firm, '77-'88, Dime Savings Bank, '88-'94 (merger with Anchor Bank)
6:51 - More career timeline; newly married and returning to NY after college; exposure to government work; draft lottery and reserve service
11:57 - Government work: Albany vs. Washington; N. Rockefeller as VP; Kykuit and rich life of Rockefellers; adjusting from policy issues to private law at firm; public service philosophy of firm
18:32 - Ascending at firm, living in Westchester; having children, moving with them and their locations in '07; representing Dime as a lawyer and knowing its president; Dime background
24:16 - Banking for schoolchildren; his preparing to run a consumer bank; trusting in knowledgeable people like Eddie Ruggiero
31:32 - Types of workers compared; key generic leadership skills: managing people and judgement; how to teach or find each skill
37:59 - Mentors: Rockefeller, Judge Tyler, Harry Albright; Dime's heritage; economic effects on banking
Oral History Interview with Richard "Dick" Parsons
Richard "Dick" Parsons was born in 1948 in Brooklyn. He lived with parents and a sister in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn until age five. The family relocated to the South Ozone Park neighborhood of Queens, and the young Parsons accelerated through school, graduating at age sixteen. He attended the University of Hawaii and the Albany Law School at Union University. After serving in state and federal government, practicing law as a partner in a firm, and being Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dime Bancorp, he joined Time Warner; first as a board member beginning in 1991 and then as President starting in 1995. Taking other high-ranking positions at the company in the late 1990s, he was then CEO of Time Warner from 2002 to 2007 and Chairman of the Board from 2003 to 2009. He has served on the boards of several non-profit organizations and became Board Chair of the Rockefeller Foundation in 2016.
In this second of two interviews, Richard "Dick" Parsons begins with a quick run-through of his career timeline from circa 1970 to 1995. He recalls his early encounters with government work in Albany and contrasts the surroundings of Washington, D.C. with Albany. He touches on a few biographical details of his children and moving the family for different opportunities, with some time spent at the Rockefeller estate in Pocantico, New York. Parsons relates his adjusting from work in the Ford White House to private litigation at Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler. He describes his preparing for leadership at Dime Bancorp. Turning philosophical, Parsons observes the importance managing people and having judgement and just how much those skills are transferable. In closing, Parsons cites the people who mentored him, discusses economic failure in the face of the 2008 Great Recession, and details a bit more about his family tree. Interview conducted by Sady Sullivan with Deborah Schwartz.
The Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Civic leaders series features a dynamic range of narrators. Many are well-known public figures and others are well-known in their communities. This ongoing series focuses on Brooklyn history and the experiences of these narrators often reference their outsized contribution to how New York City citizens live, work, and conduct business in the five boroughs. The oldest narrator in this series was born in 1921.
CitationParsons, Richard, Oral history interview conducted by Sady Sullivan, November 20, 2008, Voices of Brooklyn oral histories: Civic leaders, 2008.031.3.008; Brooklyn Historical Society.
- Dime Savings Bank of Brooklyn
- Parsons, Richard
- Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler
- Rockefeller, Nelson A., (Nelson Aldrich), 1908-1979
- Time Warner
- Economic conditions
- Family life
- Law firms
- Politics and government
- Albany (N.Y.)
- Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- Downtown Brooklyn (New York, N.Y.)
- New York (State)
- Queens (New York, N.Y.)
- Washington (D.C.)
- Westchester County (N.Y.)
Finding AidVoices of Brooklyn oral histories: Civic leaders