Jamie Dimon Family History
The banker Jamie Dimon was born on March 13th, 1956 to Ted and Themis Dimon in New York City. There were three sons in this family – the eldest Peter who was born in 1955 and the twins Jamie and Teddy who were born a year later.
At the Browning School on East 62nd Street which he and his twin brother attended, Jamie was a good athlete. Teddy once described him as someone who was always extremely confident and “wanted the ball whenever the game was on the line.”
He aspired to an Ivy League education, but was rejected by both Brown and Princeton. He studied instead at Tufts in Boston and graduated there summa cum laude. He worked in management consulting for a while before enrolling at the Harvard Business School. It was there that he met his wife Judy.
There have been two stages to his business career;
- first, his rise under his business mentor Sandy Weill. This culminated with the formation of Citigroup in 1998, but afterwards resulted in his sacking
- and then his second coming at JPMorgan Chase where he became its CEO in 2005.
During the late-1980’s and 1990’s, Sandy Weill and Jamie Dimon, his Harvard MBA boy-genius, struck a series of deals which led to Citigroup, a financial services behemoth of unprecedented heft and breadth.
Following his ouster by Weill from Citigroup, Jamie started again with Bank One which he successfully restructured. After Bank One was acquired by JPMorgan Chase in 2004, he became the CEO for JPMorgan Chase.
He made his name during the 2007 banking crisis. His attention to detail and fortress-like approach to balance sheets enabled JPMorgan Chase to prosper while other banks faltered.
As the New York Times reported:
“He would arrive at the office on Mondays with a penned list of questions for subordinates. He carried the list in his breast pocket, crossing off items as he grabbed people in the hallways.”
The Jamie Dimon business story was charted in Duff McDonald’s 2010 book Last Man Standing.
Jamie’s grandfather Panos Papademetriou was Greek from Smyrna, an ancient city on the Turkish coast, where he had been born in 1897.
Greek influence was so strong there that the Turks called it the “Smyrna of the infidels.” By the late 19th century the city had become an important financial and cultural center for the Greek world. Most of the factories there belonged to local Greeks; while three out of the nine banks were backed by Greek capital. Panos himself worked at one of these banks.
But change was in the offing. After World War One, the Greeks had planned to annex Smyrna. This precipitated war between Greece and Turkey and it was Kemal Ataturk, the leader of the Turks, who entered the city in September 1922 and drove the Greeks out. Smyrna became modern-day Izmir.
Of the Greeks who lost out, the best-known was the Onassis family – including the young Aristotle Onassis, later to become the famous shipowner. His father went to prison and some of his relatives were burnt to death at a fire in a local Greek church. In 1922 the rest of the family fled to Greece where they had to stay in an outdoor camp with other refugees. Aristotle Onassis ended up in Argentina.
Panos Papademetriou meanwhile had left by boat for New York in 1921.
The Dimon Name
Panos told two stories about why he changed his last name to Dimon. One was that he was trying to find work in New York as a busboy, but realized that people didn’t really want to hire someone who was Greek. The other story was that he had fallen in love with a French girl and Dimon sounded French.
Dimon is a name more English than French. A variant of Diamond, the surname originated in England in the counties of Somerset and Devon, along with the variants Dimond and Dymond. These names are not that common in America, but they do exist:
- Dimon, around 1,300
- Dimond, around 3,000
- and Dymond, around 2,400.
Edward Dimond’s 1891 book The Genealogy of the Dimond or Dimon Family covered past Dimonds and Dimons in Fairfield, Connecticut and in Long Island and New Hampshire.
Making It in New York
Panos Dimon, after trying his hand at various trades in New York, made a career for himself as a stockbroker at Shearson, Hammill & Co. Along the way he married Theonia Mylonas, also from the Greek exiled community in New York.
The 1940 census showed the Dimon family at Ellwood Street on the northern tip of Manhattan:
- Panos Diman, head of the family, aged 43, born in Turkey
- Theonia Diman, wife, aged 32
- Theodore Diman, son, aged 9
- plus Nicomaha Mylonas, the mother-in-law, born in Turkey
- plus John and Peter Mylonas, two brothers-in-law
Some reports have Theodore (or Ted as he was better known) as the second son of Panos and Theonia. But there is no older son recorded here. It is also clear that his wife’s Greek family had moved in with them.
After World War Two, Ted joined his father as a stockbroker at Shearson. He too married within the Greek community (his wife Themis having come from a small village in the Greek Peloponnese). As a family, they moved to the Jackson Heights area of Queens, New York.
Over the years Ted developed a successful career as a top stockbroker and financial advisor at American Express, mentoring others in the business and building a first-rate team of partners around him.
Ted’s son Jamie later said: “I really want to make a toast to my parents, my grandparents, my ancestors. I still remember when I got my first big job, I went to my grandfather and said: ‘Pappou, you should be proud that the grandson of a Greek immigrant has made it this far.’ I still remember his smile and his emotion.”
On June 5-6th 2016, Ted and Themis Dimon – after battling cancer – died peacefully at their home surrounded by a devoted family. They had been happily married for sixty-five years. Ted died in Themis’s arms. Twenty two hours later, Themis passed away – on her own terms and by her own wish – together with Ted to the end. A real love story!
Jamie Dimon’s Family Tree
- Panos Papademetriou aka Dimon (1897-1988) from Smyrna (then Greek) came to New York in 1921 and m. Theonia Mylonas (1908-1992) from a Greek family
- – Theodore Dimon (1931-2016)
- Theodore (Ted Sr) Dimon from New York m. Themis Kalos (1932-2016) from a Greek family in New York in 1952
- – Peter Dimon (b. 1955), investment banker
- – James (Jamie) Dimon (b. 1956), twin, the banker
- – Theodore (Ted Jr) Dimon (b. 1956), twin, mind-body expert, m. Tamara Bechara
- Jamie Dimon m. Judith (Judy) Kent from Maryland (b. 1957) in 1983
- – Julia Dimon (b. 1985), finance, m. Joey Romeo
- – Laura Dimon (b. 1987), journalist
- – Kara Leigh Dimon (b. 1989)
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