Thomas Ricketts, chairman of Standard Federal Bank and the man most closely identified with its success, died Tuesday after a brief battle with abdominal cancer.
Mr. Ricketts, 66, joined the Troy, Mich., thrift in 1956 after graduating from the University of Michigan law school. He became president in 1973 and chairman in 1981. Last year he negotiated the sale of $15.8 billion-asset Standard Federal to ABN Amro North America Inc., a subsidiary of the Dutch banking giant. That deal is expected to close May 1.
His death-just weeks after he entered a hospital complaining of stomach pain-was the second stunning blow to hit his family and Standard Federal. Three weeks ago, Mr. Ricketts' wife, Priscilla, was killed when run over by a car in the parking lot of a local grocery store.
"Most people that know Tom are still in shock or coping with the death of Priscilla," said Michael Moran, an analyst at Roney & Co., Detroit. "It is almost impossible to even fathom all of what has happened. It is like an incredible nightmare for the local community."
Mr. Ricketts had been slated to relinquish the day-to-day running of Standard Federal, one of the nation's largest mortgage originators, upon closing of the deal with ABN Amro. But he was to continue as chairman of Standard Federal's board.
Mr. Moran said Mr. Ricketts and his wife, who had been college sweethearts, had just finished building and furnishing a lakeside home for their retirement. Mr. Ricketts is survived by two children and one grandchild.