Fred and Mary Trump had five children; Maryanne Trump Barry, Donald Trump, Fred Trump, Jr., Elizabeth Trump Grau, and Robert Trump. Fred Trump, Jr. died in 1981, the remaining children survive.
Fred Trump died in June, 1999, having suffered Alzheimer’s Disease for several years. He left an estate valued at between $100 million and $300 million depending upon which family member is asked and what agenda is being served at the time.
Fred’s will stipulated grandchildren would each receive $200,000 and the four surviving children would split the remaining balance.
Fred Trump, Jr. Had Problems
Fred Trump, Jr. wasn’t interested in the family business and instead became a commercial pilot. He married a flight attendant and had two children, Fred 3rd and Mary.
Fred was an alcoholic, which may have cost him his marriage and a happy relationship with his father. He died of alcoholism in 1981, only 42 years old, leaving his two teenage children.
Fred’s lawyer had attached a memo to the final draft of Fred Sr.’s will in 1991 expressing concerns that Fred Jr.’s children would not be treated equally to other grandchildren because they could never receive any portion of their deceased father’s share of the estate.
The lawyer added an emphatic comment on the subject:
Given the size of your estate, this is tantamount to disinheriting them. You may wish to increase their participation in your estate to avoid ill will in the future.
That suggestion went nowhere.
In a deposition, Donald Trump indicated he has spoken with his father about this portion of the will and was left with the impression that Fred detested his son Fred’s wife, Linda. The implication was that Linda was at least partially responsible for Fred Jr.’s behavior and alcoholism. So, Fred thought, cutting Fred 3rd and Mary in on a “full share” would at least indirectly benefit Linda. So it was a non-starter.
Donald’s sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, is a federal judge in Philadelphia. She reviewed the memo from the lawyer with her father, asked him what he wished to do and was told “Forget about it.”
It’s Fred Trump’s Option
There shouldn’t be angst or complaint over what Fred did with his money. He had every right to dispose of his estate any way he wished. The motives of somebody that’s deceased are unavailable and they don’t much matter, anyway.
It’s also not, at this point, important whether or not Fred Trump was influenced to revise his 1984 will in a fashion that would leave the children of Fred 3rd out of the “children” share of his estate, splitting the pot four ways instead of five.
The important thing, the matter that should make people consider what character traits they value in their leaders and how far they would go to “win”, is coming up later.
Fred Trump 3rd was one of the family members selected to speak at his grandfather’s funeral service. He was 38 at the time, and his wife was pregnant with their third child as he delivered his portion of the eulogy.
The following excerpt from a book review of “THE TRUMPS Three Generations That Built an Empire” by Gwenda Blair are a now familiar glimpse into the motivation and character of Donald Trump:
But, characteristically, it was Fred Trump’s second son who got in the last word. And when Donald Trump spoke, as Gwenda Blair recounts in her multigenerational history of the Trump family, the focus quickly shifted from the man in the coffin to the one at the lectern, and the tenor of the occasion changed from eulogistic to solipsistic. To Donald Trump, the single most praiseworthy thing about his father was that he had always believed in Donald, whether it was Trump Tower or Trump Plaza or Trump Castle or the Trump Taj Mahal he happened to be working on. ”At his own father’s funeral, he did not stop patting himself on the back and promoting himself,” Blair writes. ”The first person singular pronouns, the I and me and my, eclipsed the he and his. . . . There was to be no sorrow; there was only success.” It was, she writes, an ”astonishing display of self-absorption.”
A eulogy is never a place for huckster ego to rule the day.
Fred Trump 3rd and Lisa Have A Son
After the funeral service, Lisa Trump went into labor and gave birth to William Trump and went home. Almost immediately, William was back in the hospital suffering horrendous seizures.
Over the next six weeks, William visited three different hospitals and underwent every conceivable test to determine the cause of his seizures. His infantile spasms led to cerebral palsy.
William will require expensive medical and rehabilitative care for his entire life.
William does not walk or talk, William is unable to care for himself.
Robert Trump Comes Through
The following excerpt from the NY Daily News piece explains that Robert Trump stepped up immediately to alleviate the current and future pain and concern over paying the bills”
During the baby’s three-week stay at Mount Sinai, Robert Trump called to assure his nephew that whatever the child needed would be covered by Precise, the Trump company medical plan. Round-the-clock nurses. Neurologists. Pulmonologists. Emergency room visits when William stopped breathing twice in the first eight months of his fragile life. “We were so relieved when Robert called,” Fred remembered.
That’s what families do.
The Will Brings Conflict
Fred and Mary, Fred Jr.’s children, filed an objection to grandfather Fred’s will in Queens in March, 2000. Their objection was based on the premise that the Trump siblings had exerted pressure upon Fred to change his will in their favor, leaving Fred Jr.’s kids out of the children’s shares.
Obviously, that move wouldn’t make anybody happy, and was certainly aggressive on the part of Fred and Mary. While the lawyer that drafted the will had predicted the ill will in his memo to Fred, when that ill will came to fruition it still hurt.
So, the Trumps cancelled the health insurance they had initially set up for William.
Winning at any cost?
Fred and Mary sued to have the health insurance restored and won.
Donald Trump Reacts
Donald Trump explained the action “I was angry because he sued.”
From Heidi Evans of the New York Daily News:
Asked whether he thought cutting their coverage could appear cold-hearted, given the baby’s medical condition, Donald made no apologies. “I can’t help that,” he said.
And there it is. This is NOT what families do.
The suit was settled (there’s another settlement for the guy that “doesn’t settle”), from all available reports “amicably” although, as in all Trump settlements the results are sealed.
The Ends Justify The Means?
Trump admits the insurance was revoked out of anger. Surely there was another component; putting pressure on an opponent, even a nephew or a nephew’s disabled son, is always a legitimate way to “battle”.
When Trump says he’s a winner, his fans applaud loudly. This example isn’t rare in Trump’s life now, there’s no reason to believe it would be any different should he be elected President.
That’s where the schism in the voter base lies. People are willing to forgive everything for Trump, for whatever reason. His brag that he could shoot someone and not lose any points in the polls is, horrifyingly, proving to be absolutely on point.
It’s always a good question to ask Trump supporters, see how far their own ethics will stretch. Are they comfortable with removing health insurance from a severely disabled family member as a weapon to help settle a lawsuit? Are they happy with building the Trump Tower with the assistance of undocumented and severely underpaid workers? Do they like the collusion with a convicted felon on many business ventures, a guy that also has documented underworld and Russian connections?
In our opinion, if they are okay with any of those, or immediately attempt to shift the conversation to something the other candidate is accused or, you should just end your chat right there.
New York Times Book Review
The House That Fred Built (12/03/2000)