Don's Blog: William Zetzmann and Clay Shaw

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Monday, November 20, 2017

William Zetzmann and Clay Shaw

In my Clay Shaw bio, Man of a Million Fragments: The True Story of Clay Shaw, I include a lot of references to William Zetzmann. He was a very prominent civic leader who owned, among other interests, a soft drink bottling company. In my youth, I drank many a 7-Up and a few Big Oranges bottled by the Zetz Bottling Company.

Zetzmann was involved in the proposed international fair proposed very early in World War II for New Orleans, a Pan American style fair that, I believe, never came to be. However, it segued into what was to be known as International House, and the International Trade Mart. The INternational Trade Mart was managed by Clay Shaw from early 1946, essentially the beginning of promotion some two and a half years before it opened, through September 1965.

Zetzmann became the President of the International Trade Mart around June 1953, shortly after the death of founding President Theodore Brent. He would serve as President until his death in 1962, and was effectively Clay Shaw's boss during that time period. He seemed to have entered the job having complete confidence in Shaw, having already observed the job he did from his position on the board of directors. He seemed to give Shaw free rein to carry out the mission of the Mart. Of course, the Mart declined severely during this period, as there was a multi-year period during which plans for a new Mart building came and went and returned, various potential building sites were explored and abandoned, financing was proposed and fell through, and existing tenants left in greater and greater numbers. Also during this period, the close relationship between the International Trade Mart and International House fractured severely. There were many reasons for all this.

Zetzmann's death would usher in Lloyd Cobb as the President of the International Trade Mart. I will discuss Cobb in a later post.

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