It was jolting to learn within the last few minutes that Frampton T. (Ted) Rowland III, one of the Kansas City areas notorious payday lenders is dead at age 52.
I do not know yet how Rowland died. Death occurred on Monday. No cause was listed. But death at 52 is unusual, and the obit in today’s paper was very low key, absent personal details and a photo.
I hope this was not a suicide, but if it was, Rowland would be the second payday lender to take his own life. The other was Blaine Tucker, a brother of Scott Tucker, who was the titular head of the payday-lending group. Blaine Tucker was 48 when he took his life in March 2014. A third Tucker brother, Joel Tucker, was also involved in the unseemly business.
(The Pitch newspaper, which has led the way on the payday lending story, has posted a story on Rowland’s death.)
All the men I have mentioned were or are defendants in federal, civil lawsuits growing out of their payday lending activities, and Scott Tucker, a former race car driver, is under criminal indictment in New York.
…I want to say this right here: I have broadsided these payday lenders, and I don’t regret it, but for their sake and that of their families I hate to see their lives shattered and some of them dying well before their time. It’s heartbreaking. Now, the victims are not only those who were cheated out of millions of dollars but the men who did the cheating and their families.
This is like a purposely set fire that whips back around to consume the arsonist and his home.
Left behind in the wake of Rowland’s premature death are his mother, his wife and the couple’s three children.
Blaine Tucker left behind a wife, a daughter, his mother and, of course, his two brothers.
Rowland’s obituary doesn’t yield much information, other than that he was a graduate of Shawnee Mission West and KU, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business. He was a member of St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Prairie Village. Whitepages.com has a listing for him in Mission Hills.
But Blaine Tucker’s obituary — which I read a few minutes ago researching this story — magnifies the scope of the tragedy.
Listen to how it begins:
Blaine Allen Tucker, 48, a kind and humble Kansas City area businessman, died unexpectedly on Sunday, March 9, 2014. An entrepreneur at heart, Blaine helped build some of the most successful restaurants and technology companies in the Kansas City area. But above all, he was a devoted family man that adored his wife, Nereyda, his beautiful daughter, Bianca, and his large, extended family.
Blaine was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to Norma and Robert Tucker. He attended Rockhurst and Shawnee Mission South High Schools and graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Business Administration.
Known by friends and family for his enormous generosity, Blaine supported many local charities, most notably the Children’s Miracle Network. He was a man always concerned for others with a knack for benevolence. And he was funny. His wry and witty sense of humor went unsurpassed, but never at the expense of others. It was always more fun when Blaine was in the room.
It makes me want to cry…Why did a guy who seemingly had so much going for him allow himself to be drawn into the damn payday lending business? How could a guy described as “kind and humble” end up taking advantage of poor people?
It doesn’t make sense…But, of course, it does make sense. I’ve written this before: It comes down to greed. When money is whipping around in the air, seemingly up for there for grabbing, it’s very hard to sit on your hands.
…I remember an occasion decades ago when greed overtook me at the old Ak-Sar-Ben racetrack in Omaha. I went to the mutuel window to cash a winning ticket that was worth something like $35. This was before computerized wagering and calculation of payouts. The mutuel clerk misread the ticket and started reaching for big bills. My eyes had to have widened as he said something like, “That’s $350, right?”
I paused for just a second and said, “Right.” The pause must have registered with him, because he quickly rechecked the ticket, looked up me and said angrily: “No, it’s not!” Lips tight and trembling, he counted out the $35 and slid it toward me with an icy glare. I walked away guilt-stricken and ashamed…My impulse had been to take the undeserved money. What I didn’t think about was that the mutuel clerk would have been held accountable for the error and would have had to make up the shortfall from his own pocket. I would have cheated a fellow human being, not the racetrack.
Greed is a powerful force. That’s why it’s one of the seven deadly sins. Like arson fires, it continues to wreak havoc, spreading forward and blowing backwards.