George L. Engelke Jr. has resigned as chairman of Astoria Financial (AF), ending his long tenure with the Lake Success, N.Y., company that included a 22-year run as its chief executive officer.

Ralph F. Palleschi, an independent director since 1996, will take over for Engelke as nonexecutive chairman of the holding company and its thrift subsidiary, Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association, the $17.1 billion-asset company said Wednesday.

Engelke, 73, joined Astoria in 1971 and served as its CEO from 1989 until his retirement last year. He had been chairman and of both the thrift and the holding company since 1997 and stayed on as nonexecutive chairman after stepping away from his day-to-day responsibilities. Under Engelke, Astoria grew from a relatively small mutual savings bank into what is now the-fifth largest publicly traded thrift in the U.S.

"George's leadership qualities and management expertise served both the company and Astoria Federal well during his 41 year tenure and I am particularly pleased to have benefited from his broad financial knowledge and industry expertise, which has proved invaluable to me during my 35 year career at Astoria," Monte N. Redman, Engelke's successor as CEO, said in a news release.

Palleschi is a cofounder of First Long Island Investors, where he continues to serve as its president and chief operating officer.

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