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This afternoon I read the horrible story of the woman crushed by an elevator in the Madison Avenue building in which she worked. Then it hit home when I realized the woman's father was an important part of my early career. When I was a cub banking reporter, Alex "Pete" Hart ran "retail" (consumer) banking at First Interstate in Los Angeles (now part of Wells Fargo). He went out of his way to help me and was gracious above and beyond the call of duty. I remember once asking him how the bank actually made money, and he patiently explained how it made loans with depositors money and made a profit by charging more interest than it paid. Later, I went to the Times and Pete was the chief executive of MasterCard and he continued to be a pleasure to deal with.

Pete, by the way, is also one of the banking innovators of the 1980s and 90s, pushing forward the development of automated teller machine networks and credit cards. But I think of him now as simply one of the nicest people I've dealt with. No one should lose a daughter like this. Least of all Pete.
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