Mark C. Wheeler Jr., vice chairman of wholesale banking at Firstar Corp., died Thursday. He was 50.

Mr. Wheeler, a 20-year banking industry veteran, was on medical leave fighting an illness, according to Firstar.

He joined Firstar last April as vice chairman and oversaw the Milwaukee-based bank's wholesale banking division. He reported to Jerry A. Grundhofer, Firstar's president and chief executive officer. During his tenure at Firstar, Mr. Wheeler helped orchestrate the merger between Firstar and Star Bank of Cincinnati.

"Mark was a valued and outstanding member of our management team, a dedicated family man, and a trusted colleague," Mr. Grundhofer said. "He will be missed by all those who knew him. While no words can truly express our sorrow, we are all saddened by his passing, yet blessed for having known Mark."

Before joining Firstar, Mr. Wheeler spent nine years at Fleet Financial Group Inc., a forerunner of FleetBoston Financial Corp. He had been president of Fleet Bank, a New York subsidiary of Fleet Financial, and had been managing director of specialized finance for all of Fleet Financial. At Fleet he was responsible for corporate accounts totaling more than $250 million in sales nationwide.

Before joining Fleet, Mr. Wheeler spent three years as managing director of corporate finance at Bankers Trust Co. and 11 years at Manufacturers Hanover Trust Co. of New York. At Manufacturers Hanover he was in charge of banking operations for the Midwest.

Mr. Wheeler held a bachelor's degree from Lake Forest University in Lake Forest, Ill., and a master's degree from Harvard University. Surviving are his wife and two children.

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