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  Minotto, James
NameJames Minotto
Phoenix, Arizona , United States
Born February 17, 1891
DiedAugust 15, 1980 (89 years)
ContributorThomas Walker
Last ModifedThomas Walker
Nov 01, 2012 11:49am
InfoMinotto, James, James Minotto, 89, a former U.S. diplomat and prominent figure in Arizona ranching, banking and politics, died Friday at his home. Services will be at noon Monday in the Brophy Chapel, 4715 N. Central. Minotto held many jobs in his lifetime, including five years abroad working on President Truman's Marshall Plan, which was designed to boost the postwar economy of Europe. His wife, Julia, said he was know as a man who "refused to retire." Minotto represented Maricopa County in the Senate in the 11th, 14th and 16th Arizona legislatures. He served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture and Irrigation and the Senate Appropriations Committee. He was a pioneer in the Bank of Phoenix and was a special consultant for Valley National Bank. He was instrumental in starting the Maricopa County Sheriff's Posse and served as captain for nine years. Minotto was born Feb. 17, 1891, in Berlin. He was the son of a German actress, Agnes Sorma, and Count Demetrio Minotto, an Italian historian. After graduating from Potsdam Gymnasium, which offered the equivalent of two years of college, Minotto worked for the Deutsche Bank in Berlin until 1914, when he came to the United States to work for Guaranty Trust Co. in New York. He was sent to South America to study banking conditions, and after returning he set up and headed a Latin American department for the bank. He went on to Equitable Trust Co., now the Chase Manhattan Bank, in a similar capacity. In 1916, he married Idamay Swift, of the Swift meat-packing family, in Chicago, where he was vice president of Boulevard National Bank for four years. During that time, he renounced the title of count and became a naturalized citizen. The Minottos had a son Mitri, who died in 1951, a daughter, Sissie Minotto Walker. The family arrived in Arizona in 1924. A year later, Minotto bought the ranch of St. John's Mission in Phoenix and turned it into a dairy ranch. He had said, "I always wanted to be a cowboy," and he got his wish in Arizona. Minotto operated the Z Triangle Ranch in Walnut Grove more than 20 years and the V-Bar-V Cattle Ranch, a 100,000-acre spread straddling Yavapai and Coconino counties, for about 10 years. He rode in 60 to 70 rodeos, competing in calf roping and team tying. In 1931, he put up $16,000 for the Phoenix Rodeo and was asked to stage the World's Fair Rodeo in Chicago in 1933. Referring to his world travels and love of ranching, Minotto frequently said, "I am the only person I know who can rope a calf and row a gondola." Minotto was elected to the board of governors of the Salt River Valley Water Users' Association in 1929. He was re-elected five times. He made an unsuccessful bid for governorship in 1934. He was appointed associate to the president of Cudahy Meat Packing Co. in 1947 and handled the firm's local operations for a year. His first wife died in 1943, and a year later he married Julia Franklin. They had a son, James Jr., and a daughter, Anina Minotto Gadd. After his resignation from Cudahy, the Minottos took a years vacation in Europe where Mr. Minotto studied the Marshall Plan's effects in Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. During the trip, he wrote a series of 38 articles for The Arizona Republic. Upon his return, he reported to Truman and asked Americans to support the Marshall Plan. "It's the cheapest price America can pay for peace," Minotto said. He said the best way to avoid World War III would be to put the 200 million people on the west side of the Iron Curtain back on their feet. In 1950, Truman appointed him deputy chief of the Economic Cooperation Administration in Rome. One of his jobs was to encourage export trade. A year later, Minotto became chief of the Mission of the Mutual Security Agency and Foreign Operations Administration Headquarters in Lisbon, Portugal. He held the title of minister and served in Portugal for four years. When he returned to Arizona in 1955, Minotto spoke frequently to civic groups about the Marshall Plan. He told the State Senate, "Our best hope for peace is for a combined America and Europe to be strong enough so the Russians will feel it is a little too much to swallow." He wrote for The Republic again the Chicago Sun-Times in 1956 about conditions in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal. His articles included in-depth interviews with Prime Minister Antonio Salazar of Portugal and Generallissimo Francisco Franco of Spain. He returned to banking in 1956 as a special representative of the Valley National Bank's business-development department. In 1958, he took a two-month leave to do a report on the Caribbean and Central American region for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Minotto left VNB to start his own bank, the Bank of Phoenix, which opened in 1958. He was chairman of the board and president of the bank, which became Great Western Bank and Savings in 1970. He continued service to the government and in 1964, 1965 and 1968 served as a special consultant to various U.S. Senate committees. He was a public-relations consultant for Arizona Public Service Co., Western Savings and an associate broker at Ed Post Realty before retiring in 1977. The Italian Republic decorated him as commander with the Order of Merit. Until recent years, he was a member of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Club, Navy League, Fraternal Order of Police, Elks Club, Woodman of the World, Paradise and Kiva Country clubs, the Moose Club, the Phoenix Real Estate Board and a California yacht club. He helped raise funds for the Phoenix Little Theater in the 1940s. Besides his wife, son and daughters, he is survived by a nephew, William Swift, whom he reared, and two grandchildren. Friends may call noon to 9 p.m. Sunday at A. L. Moore and Sons Mortuary, 333 W. Adams. Minotto's ashes will be buried at 2 p.m. Tuesday in Skull Valley Cemetery near Prescott. (Arizona Republic, Aug. 16, 1980).



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  09/11/1934 AZ Governor - D Primary Lost 4.62% (-31.55%)