After spending 18 years on Wall Street, the co-workers of Elizabeth M. Gregg GRD ’77 may have thought she devoted much of her time to the whims of the stock market.
But there was more to Gregg than portfolios and returns.
Grape pies, a 150-year-old brownstone and a community that adored her were only part of Gregg’s life outside of the office.
Gregg, a portfolio manager for Fred Alger Management, is still missing after her office in the World Trade Center was destroyed in the attack Sept. 11.
Gregg, 52, known as Lisa to her friends and family, worked at Fred Alger for 18 years after receiving her master’s in business administration from New York University in the early 1980s.
After graduating from Mount Holyoke college in 1971, Gregg immediately entered graduate school at Yale, where she spent six years studying French defense spending in the 15th century.
Melissa Gallagher met Gregg in their first week together at Holyoke and remained friends with her ever since.
“She was shy and welcoming in a way the Seven Sisters encouraged at the time,” Gallagher said. “She wasn’t quite deferential, but she was a gentle easygoing person.”
When Gallagher was at Holyoke with Gregg, they once went on a double date at Princeton both wearing miniskirts.
While Gallagher wore a suede miniskirt, Gregg’s leather miniskirt kept shifting the entire night, providing such a source of embarrassment that Gregg still blushed when Gallagher mentioned it this year.
“Lisa wasn’t the kind to make a commotion or draw attention to herself,” Gallagher said. “Even something as simple as the miniskirt was an amusing embarrassment.”
At Yale, Gregg was a serious researcher, forming more close bonds with her professors than her fellow students, Gallagher said. But Gregg also mixed business with pleasure, using a research trip to France to traverse western Europe with Gallagher.
“She met people in New Haven she really liked,” Gallagher said. “It was a time of a whole lot of work, but she certainly enjoyed the process of working toward her Ph.D.”
While learning French and German as part of her graduate studies, Gregg demonstrated her strong work ethic.
“I remember her having to learn two languages and that was agony,” Gallagher said. “But ever since she learned them, she always used them and never forgot them.”
At Alger, Chief Investment Officer Dan Chung remembered how Gregg dedicated herself to every specific task.
“In all the craziness of the go-go stock market, she was very disciplined in her approach,” Chung said. “She never wavered in trying to understand who her clients were.”
Outside of her interest in medieval French history and her work for Alger, Gregg’s interests included her cats, her friends, her house, local politics and gardening.
Gregg channeled her historic interest into frequent visits to France and the historic restoration of her 150-year-old brownstone in Brooklyn, which she had nearly completed at the time of the attack.
Grape pies and preserves were a common staple at Gregg’s house, where a grape arbor in the backyard was the focal point of a garden that included a rotating selection of fruits and vegetables.
“She always tried to beat the birds to the grapes,” Gallagher said. “She would always give her pies and preserves to people in the community. That was one of the things she did to relieve the stress of working for Alger.”
To her family, Gregg was a dedicated sister and daughter, visiting her mother and brothers Tony and Charles Gregg in Hawaii for two weeks each year. In her visits, her brother Tony Gregg remembered her ability to separate work from her home life.
“Whenever Lisa came to visit, we didn’t talk about how things were going with work,” Gregg said. “We did family stuff. I do construction, so when her and me would talk we would talk about how to fix up her house.”
Tony Gregg also remembered his sister’s loyalty to their mother.
“When she came to visit, Lisa would spend most of her time with Mom, because she can’t leave the house,” Gregg said. “We would always go over there for a family setting.”
In Brooklyn, Gregg had become involved in neighborhood politics.
When Mayor Rudolph Giuliani tried to get Gregg’s City Council member to retire, Gregg formed a coalition in her neighborhood to support the council member.
“She was one of those people who had no idea what she meant to other people,” Gallagher said. “She made sure the neighborhood retained the qualities it had. She was really helpful and self-effacing to a fault.”