John Teets' Death Brings Back Memories of Onetime Valley Bigwig

Categories: News

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.

 

John Teets2.jpg
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.

"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..

 


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10 comments
danno
danno

I know its been a long time... I worked for Greyhound Lines for 29 years. I was in a room with Teets for 3 days every month for several years while he micro managed us out of existence. His style was to fire some longtime VP each meeting just to keep everyone in line. In one meeting he called Joe Black a 'boy' and told him to sit down because his ideas were not worth considering when he had the temerity to respond to Teets's request for ideas! John Teets was a mean man who destroyed (among other things) a great American Icon with the second best name recognition in the world: The Greyhound Corporation. This was my therapy, writing this. My sympathies to the victims of this 'Captain of Industry'.

Coon_eye
Coon_eye

glad he is gone! A userless sob

Jsemmes
Jsemmes

his soul is in hee for the way he did the Greyhound employees

Steve
Steve

Not being from Arizona, I am not familiar with the Phoenix New Times.  From this article and other articles that I have skimmed by Paul Rubin, I notice a trend of an unhappy person trying to find a name for himself in his work.  Good luck Paul, as most people find it unusual that someone would print such things about someone through their obituary.  Perhaps you may want to run with your anger and emotions during another time, another place, another life time. I am sure a nice therapist would also suffice with getting out your hatred. 

Thomas
Thomas

another reason the New Times will never be a serious newspaper, self serving, one sided, mean spirited and nasty!

Guest
Guest

Shame on you for not having enough class to remeber a wonderful man, a loving man, a generous man, a man who had his struggles in life as well as many wins.  I feel bad that your conscience allowed you to write something like this, because I know many more people will remember this remarkable man as an inspirational leader, an amazing man in his time.  I can only hope that some day when you reflect back on your life that you can be as proud of the things you did, and by articles like this, I think it may be hard for you to do.  Obviously you never knew this amazing person, I am a better person for knowing him, and am so thankful to have the opportunity to learn from him in my life, what an inspirational person you were John Teets, you are rembembered as a great, great person. 

helentroy4
helentroy4

Thank you Paul for balancing this act. I saw the loving story in the Republic but kept flashing back on what was written here in the 90s.

Certainly I wish Mr. Teets to rest in peace.

If anyone has read the AZ Republic's latest coverage, someone speaks of Teets treating his employees the same way he treated his children. I don't know if that was meant as a compliment, but it spoke volumes on how he ran the company.

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