John Teets, the rich and powerful onetime CEO of what once was the Phoenix-based Dial/Greyhound companies, died a few days ago at the age of 77 from complications related to Alzheimer's Disease.
|The late John Teets, a Phoenix bigshot back in the day|
Mr. Teets was a doggedly tough SOB (aka ruthless) who ran his largely successful businesses with an iron fist, and brooked little dissent from pliant subordinates.
For years (and for better or worse), he ranked behind only sports magnate Jerry Colangelo as the Valley's most powerful mover-and-shaker.
Unfortunately, Mr. Teets' vision of Phoenix included a bizarrely opulent water-sucking garden outside those even more out-of-place 24-story twin-tower buildings at Central Avenue and Palm Lane. Those monstrocities opened in April 1991 to no small amount of disdain from neighbors and others who cared about what their city looks like.
Teets also was the force behind the high-brow restaurant on the Dial building's second floor called Gabriel's. It featured bow-tied wait staff serving overpriced (but not bad, as we recall from our one visit there) food.
We spoke with Teets just a few times, once a brief back-and-forth chance meeting near the Phoenix Suns' team shop in the lobby of what then was known as the America West Arena.
It was around Christmas 1995, within a few weeks after we published this inside story, entitled "Dial's Dirty Laundry."
Let's put it this way:
The persona of the good Christian gentleman--the one that former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods painted so lovingly in an obituary over the weekend about Mr. Teets' death--was not evident during our little interaction.
We introduced ourselves to him and quickly asked why he hadn't returned numerous phone calls and even a snail-mail letter or two seeking comment on the nasty situation inside his sprawling company that was costing him dearly--especially after the New York Times picked up our story and ran with it..
Mr. Teets smiled at us, the cold grin of a snake about to strike.
"Why would I have called you?" he spat. "You were going to write what you were going to write."
He turned from us and continued to walk in the other direction.
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"Hey, Mr. Teets," we shouted after him. "Was the story accurate?"
He kept walking, and then looked back at us. It seemed as if he was about to say something, but he didn't.
Instead, he gave us one final reptilian grin and went on his way..