Phillip L. Hehmeyer
Phillip Leland Hehmeyer was a Memphis-born, New York-based cotton trader, broker, exchange member and exchange president who died by suicide in 1982 at the age of 37. He had recently been elected to the non-paid position of chairman of the New York Cotton Exchange before his death and was to be married. He was the older brother of Christopher Hehmeyer.
Hehmeyer's death was greeted with a minute of silence on the floor of the Cotton Exchange after it was announced.
Hehmeyer was born on January 3, 1945 and grew up in Memphis to parents who were staffers for Sen. Harry S Truman. His father was a press aide for Truman and was co-author of the book "This Man Truman."
Hehmeyer graduated from East High School in Memphis and then attended the University of the South in Sewanee before enlisting in the U.S. Army during the Viet Nam War years. Hehmeyer served then spent nine months in Quinhon in Vietnam. He would return to the University of the South and graduate in 1970 with a degree in English.
He worked as a reporter for The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, managed two restaurants in the Virgin Islands and then moved to New York after college.
He clerked for a cotton firm in New York that was owned by the father of a college friend. After six months as a clerk, he bought a membership on the New York Cotton Exchange for $3,800. His badge was HEH 119. At the age of 28, Hehmeyer became a millionaire.
Hehmeyer established his own firm after the two partners of the firm he was working for were charged with fraud related to manipulation of the crude oil market for tax purposes. After they were cleared of the charges, he went on his own and established Hehmeyer & Company.
After his death, Hehmeyer was succeeded by Alex Weissenborn, the vice chairman of the board, as chairman of the New York Cotton Exchange.
He held a Bachelor of Arts in english from the University of the South in Sewanee.
Hehmeyer left no suicide note, but did leave a message scrawled on a blackboard in his apartment where he took his life. The blackboard said "SOMEBODY HAD TO DO IT. SELF AWARENESS IS SILLY." He died of a self-inflicted shotgun wound.
He was reportedly despondent over market losses and crumbling economic conditions that were occurring, specifically the Mexican financial crisis of the early 1980s.
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