Dave Matthews fan, LeVeen '68 knew how to have fun

by Julia Levy | 11/7/01 6:00am

(Editor's note: This is the seventh in a series of articles profiling the Dartmouth victims of the Sept. 11 tragedy)

By day, Jeffrey LeVeen '68 was a veritable Wall Street tycoon, but by night, he yearned to be wearing shorts and Docksiders, singing, jumping and screaming out song requests alongside teenage Dave Matthews fans.

"He was a 55-year-old with the heart and drive to have the good time of a 26-year-old," said his eldest son and namesake, Jeffrey LeVeen Jr.

The younger LeVeen went along on two of the three consecutive Dave Matthews concerts that his father attended this summer when the band played at Continental Airlines Arena in New Jersey.

During one of the concerts, the elder LeVeen was singing along so loudly and screaming out his normal song request, "Proudest Monkey," so earnestly that someone actually turned around and asked if he could pipe down.

The younger LeVeen said one of the most amazing things about his father was his ability to combine youthful behavior -- which in this case included pre-and-post-concert tailgating in the arena's parking lot -- with a serious work ethic and heartfelt respect for others.

LeVeen was one of the nine Dartmouth graduates who fell victim to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks against America. He was also one of 733 employees of brokerage firm Cantor Fitzgerald to perish that day. On the day of the hijacking, LeVeen had a 7:30 a.m. meeting on the 104th floor of the North tower, where he worked.

Back in his Dartmouth days, LeVeen was an economics major, the social chairman of the Phoenix society and a member of the College's bridge club for all of his four years in Hanover, and he was a member of the market club for his first two years.

At Dartmouth, he also played golf -- a game that he had taken up while attending Schreiber High School in Port Washington -- and was the team's captain during his junior year.

Golf Coach Bill Johnson, who retired in July after 35 years with Dartmouth's golf program, arrived in Hanover just one year before LeVeen became captain of the team.

"He was one of my favorite players," Johnson said. "He was a great team catalyst."

He said LeVeen was instrumental in the team's success -- not because of his strong golfing skills, but because of his uniting influence over teammates.

Johnson recalled that when the team used to travel in two cars instead of modern-day vans to tournaments, players typically self-segregated into hierarchical groups, with the "best players in one car and the 'other guys' in the other car."

But he said LeVeen, who was not one of the stars of the team, broke this divide when he was captain.

"He was tough with a sense of humor," Johnson said. "His laughter was infectious, and he had the serious side, with some goals firmly set."

Johnson said he has kept in touch with LeVeen since he graduated. When Johnson last spoke with him, a little over a year ago, LeVeen was "very warm" as the two caught up, speaking as "coach to captain" even after more than three decades.

Ken Kotowski '68, a golf teammate, remembered LeVeen as a "real fun-loving guy who was always making jokes and always looking for the funny side of golf trips and gold scores and matches."

He said LeVeen was able to hold the team together and make practice and competition fun even though New Hampshire's climate shortened the season and the team didn't always have the best record.

Kotowski stayed in the golf business after leaving Dartmouth, but LeVeen had other plans -- Wall Street.

According to Christine, LeVeen's widow, her husband dreamed of working in finance from the time he was a teenager.

"He was very bright," she told Newsday. "He could grasp every situation and turn it into something positive."

According to the younger LeVeen, his father didn't go to work because he had to -- he went because he "enjoyed the thrill of what he did every day."

"He personified the institutional sales trader to a 'T' because he had that package."

The younger LeVeen, 26, who works as a NASDAQ trader for Solomon Smith Barney, said he has modeled himself after his father, both in terms of career paths and behavior.

"He could treat the mailman or the CEO of his firm with the same respect," he said. "He was always very happy and respectful and able to talk to people no matter how important or unimportant they were."

In addition to constant business travel and meetings, LeVeen devoted himself to his wife and five children: Jeff Jr.; Betsy, 25; Andrew, 23; Katie, 21 and Meg, 20.

"He was very good at balancing his life," said the younger LeVeen, who remembers skiing trips and golf outings with his father, as well as sitting together with him on the back deck of the family's summer house and going on college visiting tours.

"He was a mentor that I can never replace," LeVeen said. "The man loved to live life. He tried to suck the marrow out of life."