Fred Trump

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Frederick Trump
Fred Trump.png
Frederick Christ Trump

(1905-10-11)October 11, 1905
New York City, New York, U.S.
DiedJune 25, 1999(1999-06-25) (aged 93)
Resting placeLutheran All Faiths Cemetery, New York City, U.S.
EducationRichmond Hill High School
OccupationReal estate developer
Elizabeth Trump & Son Co.
Net worthUS$250–300 million (June 1999)
Parent(s)Frederick Trump
Elizabeth Christ Trump
RelativesSee Trump family

Frederick Christ Trump (October 11, 1905 – June 25, 1999) was an American real estate developer, primarily in New York City, and father of Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States, and Maryanne Trump Barry, a United States Court of Appeals judge.

Fred Trump's father Frederick died when Fred was 12 years old. By 15, in partnership with his mother Elizabeth Christ Trump[1] and non-family investors, Trump had begun a career in home construction and sales. The development company was incorporated as Elizabeth Trump & Son in 1927, and grew to build and manage single-family houses in Queens, barracks and garden apartments for U.S. Navy personnel near major shipyards along the East Coast, and more than 27,000 apartments in New York City.[2][3]

Trump was investigated by a U.S. Senate committee for profiteering in 1954.[4] He made Donald the president of Trump Management Company in 1971,[5] and they were sued by the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division for violating the Fair Housing Act in 1973.[6]

Early life

Trump family portrait, 1915; L to R: Fred, his father Frederick, sister Elizabeth, mother Elizabeth, and brother John

Frederick, Sr. had become rich during his exploits in the Klondike Gold Rush,[7] and visited his home of Kallstadt, where he met Elizabeth Christ, the daughter of a former neighbor.[8] Back in New York City, they moved to the German-speaking Morrisania neighborhood of the Bronx, but Elizabeth didn't like it, so they returned to Bavaria. They attempted to immigrate, but could not due to Frederick's having fled mandatory military service years earlier.[9]

They conceived their first son, and returned to New York upon the SS Pennsylvania on July 1, 1905. Frederick Christ Trump was born in the Bronx on October 11, 1905.[10] Trump was one of three children of German Lutheran immigrants Elizabeth (née Christ) and Frederick Trump. He had a younger brother John and an older sister Elizabeth Trump Walters (1904–1961).

Soon after Fred's birth, the family moved to Woodhaven, Queens. When he was 12 years old, his father died during the 1918 flu pandemic.[3] From 1918 to 1923, he attended Richmond Hill High School in Queens.[11]

Family trade

Trump became a carpenter and took classes in reading blueprints.[12] Two years after his graduation, he finished his first house, and since he was still under age, his mother formed Elizabeth Trump & Son and officially headed it until he was 21. In 1926, he had already built 20 homes in Queens.[13] By the mid-1930s, in the middle of the Great Depression, he helped pioneer the concept of supermarkets with the Trump Market in Woodhaven, which advertised "Serve Yourself and Save!", becoming an instant hit. After a year, Trump sold it to the King Kullen supermarket chain.[12]

1927 arrest

On Memorial Day in 1927, the Ku Klux Klan marched in Queens to protest Protestant American citizens being "assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City."[14] Fred was arrested "on a charge of refusing to disperse from a parade when ordered to do so," and the only one of seven men dismissed without charges.[15][16] All seven arrested were referred to as "berobed marchers" in the Long Island Daily Press. A Vice article noted that if any of the attendees weren't "dressed in a robe at the time, that may have been a reporting error worth correcting."[15] When asked about the issue in September 2015, Donald Trump, then a candidate for President of the United States, denied that his father had ever been arrested.[14][17]

Fred C. Trump in the Brooklyn Eagle, 1940

Personal life

Fred's future wife Mary Anne MacLeod emigrated from Glasgow, Scotland on the RMS Transylvania in November 1929.[18] She stated her occupation as "domestic" or "maid" on ship manifests and the 1930 census.[18] She obtained a "re-entry permit" to the U.S.—only granted to "lawful, permanent residents" intending to stay and gain citizenship[19][20]—and returned to Scotland on the SS Cameronia on September 12, 1934.[21]

Trump, a Lutheran, married Mary, a Presbyterian, in January 1936 at the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church with George Arthur Buttrick officiating.[22] A wedding reception with 25 guests was held at the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. Fred and Mary Trump settled in Jamaica, Queens,[18] and had five children.[23][24] They are or were: Maryanne Trump Barry (born 1937), a federal appeals court judge; Frederick Christ "Freddy" Trump Jr. (1938–1981), an airline pilot with Trans World Airlines;[25] Elizabeth Trump Grau (born 1942), an executive at Chase Manhattan Bank;[26][27] Donald Trump (born 1946), businessman, television personality and 45th President of the United States;[28] and Robert Trump (born 1948), a top executive of his father's property management company.[23] Freddy Trump Jr. predeceased his parents, dying at 42 of complications associated with alcoholism.[25][29]

Although both of his parents were German,[10] for decades after World War II Trump told friends that his family was of Swedish origin. According to his nephew John Walter, "He had a lot of Jewish tenants and it wasn't a good thing to be German in those days."[3]


A later portrait in the Brooklyn Eagle, February 1950

During World War II, Trump built barracks and garden apartments for U.S. Navy personnel near major shipyards along the East Coast, including Chester, Pennsylvania, Newport News, Virginia, and Norfolk, Virginia. After the war he expanded into middle-income housing for the families of returning veterans, building Shore Haven in Bensonhurst in 1949, and Beach Haven near Coney Island in 1950 (a total of 2,700 apartments). In 1963–1964, he built Trump Village, an apartment complex in Coney Island, for $70 million.[12] He built more than 27,000 low-income apartments and row houses in Coney Island, Bensonhurst, Sheepshead Bay, Flatbush, and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn, and Flushing and Jamaica Estates in Queens.[3]

Folk icon Woody Guthrie was a tenant in one of Trump's apartment complexes in Brooklyn in 1950, and criticized him as a landlord.[4] He wrote lyrics accusing him of stirring up racial hate "in the bloodpot of human hearts".[30]

Profiteering investigation

In 1954, Trump was investigated by a U.S. Senate committee for profiteering from public contracts, including overstating his Beach Haven building charges by $3.7 million.[4] In testimony before the Senate Banking Committee in 1954, William F. McKenna, appointed to investigate "scandals" within the FHA, cited Fred C. Trump and his partner William Tomasello as examples of how profits were made by builders using the FHA.[31]:409 McKenna said the two paid $34,200 for a piece of land which they rented to their corporation for $76,960 per year in a 99-year lease, so that if the apartment they built on it ever defaulted, the FHA would owe them $1.924 million. McKenna said that Trump and Tomasello obtained loans for $3.5 million more than the apartments cost.[31]:58 The following month, Trump testified before the Senate Banking Committee that due to rising costs, he would have had to invest more than the 10% of the loan not provided by the FHA, and therefore suffer a loss if he built under those conditions.[31]:414–5

Son becomes president

Fred's son Donald Trump joined Trump Management Company around 1968, and rose to become company president in 1971. Donald Trump claimed to receive a loan from his father in the mid-1970s of $1 million (documented as numerous loans exceeding $14 million).[32] This allowed Donald to enter the real estate business in Manhattan, while his father stuck to Brooklyn and Queens.[33] "It was good for me," Donald later commented. "You know, being the son of somebody, it could have been competition to me. This way, I got Manhattan all to myself."[3]

Civil rights suit

Trump Village in Brooklyn, built by Fred Trump in 1963–1964

Minority applicants turned away from renting apartments complained to the New York City Commission on Human Rights and the Urban League, leading the League and other groups to send test applicants to Trump-owned complexes in July 1972. They concluded that whites were offered apartments, while blacks were generally steered away. Both advocacy organizations then raised the issue with the Justice Department.[6] In October 1973, the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil rights suit against the Trump organization (Fred Trump, chair & Donald Trump, president) for "violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968."[6] In response, Trump attorney Roy Cohn "portrayed the Trumps as the victims and counter-sued" for $100 million by implicating the DOJ for "falsely accusing them of discrimination."[6]

Court records showed that "four superintendents or rental agents confirmed that applications sent to the Trump organization's central office for acceptance or rejection were coded by race."[34] A rental agent said Fred Trump had instructed him "not to rent to blacks" and to "decrease the number of black tenants" "by encouraging them to locate housing elsewhere."[34] A consent decree between the DOJ and the TO was signed on June 10, 1975, with both sides claiming victory—the TO for its perceived ability to continue denying rentals to welfare recipients, and the head of DOJ's housing division for the decree being "one of the most far-reaching ever negotiated."[6][34] It personally and corporately prohibited the Trumps from "discriminating against any person in the ... sale or rental of a dwelling," and "required Trump to advertise vacancies in minority papers, promote minorities to professional jobs, and list vacancies on a preferential basis with the Open Housing Center of the Urban League."[34] Finally, it ordered the Trumps to "thoroughly acquaint themselves personally on a detailed basis with ... the Fair Housing Act of 1968."[6][35]

Wealth and estate

Trump appeared on the initial Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1982 with an estimated $200 million fortune shared with his son Donald.[36] In 1976, Trump had set up trust funds of $1 million for each of his five children and three grandchildren ($4.3 million in 2017 dollars), that paid out yearly dividends.[37] By 1993, the siblings' anticipated shares of Trump's estate amounted to $35 million each.[38][37] Upon Trump's death in 1999, his will divided $20 million after taxes among his surviving children.[37][39][40]

In October 2018, The New York Times published an exposé drawing on more than 100,000 pages of tax returns and financial records from Trump's businesses, and interviews with former advisers and employees. The Times concluded that his son Donald "was a millionaire by age 8,"[41] and that he had received $413 million (adjusted for inflation) from Fred's business empire over his lifetime.[42] According to the Times, Trump loaned at least $60 million to his son, who largely failed to reimburse him.[41] The paper also described a number of purportedly fraudulent tax schemes, for example when Trump sold shares in Trump Palace condos to his son well below their purchase price, thus masking what could be considered a hidden donation, and benefiting from a tax write-off.[42] Donald Trump's lawyer denied the allegations of fraud and tax evasion, while the New York tax department stated they would investigate the issue.[43]


Fred Trump (left) and other realtors at a New York and Brooklyn federation Jewish charity dinner.

Fred and Mary Trump supported medical charities by donating buildings. After Mary received medical care at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, they donated the Trump Pavilion.[3][44][45] Community Mainstreaming Associates of Great Neck, "an organization that provides homes for functionally retarded adults," received a two building complex in Brooklyn in a combined gift to the National Kidney Foundation of New York/New Jersey.[3][44] The Cerebral Palsy Foundation of New York and New Jersey also received a building.[3] In addition, Fred made charitable contributions to the Long Island Jewish Hospital and the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan,[3] and Mary served on the Women's Auxiliary of the Jamaica Day Nursery.[44]

Trump supported Jewish and Israeli causes and institutions, including donating the land for the Beach Haven Jewish Center in Flatbush, New York.[46] He significantly supported Israel Bonds, debt securities that trade at a risk-adjusted spread to U.S. Treasury bonds issued by the Israeli government.[47] The Trumps were active in The Salvation Army, the Boy Scouts of America and the Lighthouse for the Blind.[44] Fred also supported the Kew-Forest School,[3] where his children attended and he served on the board of directors.[48]

Later years and death

During the 1980s, Fred Trump became friends with future-Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, who was the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations in Manhattan.[49]

The Trumps had a happy, affectionate marriage, remaining together until Fred's death.[50] He suffered from Alzheimer's disease for the last six years of his life,[3] and finally fell ill with pneumonia in June 1999. He was admitted to Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, where he died at age 93 on June 25.[51] Trump's estate was estimated by his family at $250 million to $300 million.[3] His funeral was held at the Marble Collegiate Church[51] and his body is interred at Lutheran All Faiths Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens.[52] His widow, Mary, died the following summer, on August 7, 2000, in New Hyde Park, New York, at age 88.[44]


  1. ^ "If you think Trump's money comes from his dad, you're only half right". TheBillFold.
  2. ^ Blair 2015, pp. 121, 156.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rozhon, Tracie (June 26, 1999). "Fred C. Trump, Postwar Master Builder of Housing for Middle Class, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
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  5. ^ Blair 2005, p. 23.
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  10. ^ a b Blair 2005, p. 110.
  11. ^ Blair 2005, p. 117.
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  13. ^ Blair 2005, p. 120–122.
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  28. ^ Flegenheimer, Matt & Barbaro, Michael (November 9, 2016). "Donald Trump Is Elected President in Stunning Repudiation of the Establishment". The New York Times. Retrieved January 30, 2017.
  29. ^ McAfee, Tierney (October 8, 2015). "Donald Trump Opens Up About His Brother's Death from Alcoholism: It Had a 'Profound Impact on My Life'". People. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
  30. ^ Kaplan, Thomas (January 25, 2016). "Woody Guthrie Wrote of His Contempt for His Landlord, Donald Trump's Father". The New York Times. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
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  35. ^ United States of America vs. Fred C. Trump and Trump Management, Inc. (East District of New York Court October 15, 1973). Text
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  39. ^ Rozhon, Tracy (June 26, 1999). "Fred C. Trump, Postwar Master Builder of Housing for Middle Class, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved August 19, 2015.
  40. ^ Horowitz, Jason (January 2, 2016). "For Donald Trump, Lessons From a Brother's Suffering". The New York Times. Then came the unveiling of Fred Sr.'s will, which Donald had helped draft. It divided the bulk of the inheritance, at least $20 million, among his children and their descendants, 'other than my son Fred C. Trump Jr.'
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  45. ^ Mary's obituary refers to her as being "the mainstay of the Women's Auxiliary of Jamaica Hospital." See NYT Staff, The New York Times, August 9, 2000.
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  50. ^ Blair 2005.
  51. ^ a b Mosconi, Angela (June 26, 1999). "Fred Trump, Dad of Donald, Dies at 93". New York Post. Retrieved January 29, 2017.
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