This writer has seldom witnessed so meteoric an ascent to fame as that of James Needham, first to the Securities and Exchange Commission and then as chairman of the New York Stock Exchange.Jim was a pleasant, always-smiling CPA with an Irish mien and personality. In many ways, our careers paralleled each other as we moved up the ladder of the New York State Society and the American Institute of CPAs. In 1969, there was an opening on the Securities and Exchange Commission and the then-Secretary of Commerce, Maurice Stans, a past president of the AICPA, recommended that a CPA be appointed. Republican politics ordained that the post go to a designee in North Carolina. The firm of A.M. Pullen in Greensboro, N.C., was contacted and it recommended James Needham, who was managing partner of its New York office.
One day, after a meeting at the SEC with my friend, chief accountant John C. “Sandy” Burton Jr., with our usual exchange of thrusts and parries, he quipped, “A rolling loan gathers no interest.”
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