William Sword Jr., managing director of the Princeton, New Jersey-based investment bank founded by his father, was struck and killed on Oct. 29 by a tree toppled by the storm that swept across the Northeast. He was 61.
Princeton Township police found him trapped under the tree, “which had fallen on him as he cleared storm debris from his driveway,” according to a police report. He was pronounced dead at the scene following life-saving efforts by Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad.
Sword was head of Wm Sword & Co. since 1981. He joined the firm in 1976 after graduating from Princeton University.
His father, William Sword, who died in 2005, helped start Morgan Stanley’s mergers and acquisitions department as managing director in the 1970s. He left Morgan Stanley in 1976 to form his namesake firm.
According to the company’s website, Wm Sword’s projects included developing a private-equity investment program for Capital Cities Capital, a subsidiary of Capital Cities/ABC Inc., now part of the Walt Disney Co.; advising Thomson Corp. in the sale of Thomson Financial Treasury Solutions to the ABS Group in 2001; and raising funds for Aquiline Capital Partners LLC, a private-equity firm founded by Jeffrey Greenberg after he left Marsh & McLennan Cos.
“He was a very well-respected, well-connected guy, an old-school gentleman in every sense of the word,” Daniel B. Rowe, Sword’s co-managing director, said in an interview today. “He was a righteous person who was very charitable. He’s literally got dozens of friends and business colleagues who have reached out to me and the firm since they heard.”
At Princeton, where his father also was an alumnus, Sword majored in politics and was a member of Ivy Club, the Daily Princetonian reported today. Rowe said Sword was devoted to his alma mater, attending lectures and basketball games, among other activities.
The house where Sword lived, and died, is on Great Road, one of Princeton’s premier residential thoroughfares, where asking prices for homes currently on the market approach $3 million.
In 2003, Sword was the victim of a stabbing at his home. According to an account in the New York Times, he was attacked by a 24-year-old man, Jelani Manigault, a senior at the University of Maryland, who had been staying with his parents and girlfriend at the nearby Tenacre Foundation, a nursing center and retreat that calls itself “a ministry of Christian Science.”
Police shot and killed Manigault. Sword, wounded in his upper chest and shoulder, underwent surgery and recovered, according to the account in the Times.
That brush with violence made Sword more of “a lover of life,” slightly less ambitious and more appreciative of time with friends, Rowe said.
Sword, a lifelong Princeton resident, was born on March 6, 1951, according to Pete McDonough, his brother-in-law. With his wife, the former Martha Sullivan, he had two daughters, Gretchen and Hope, and a son, Will.