a small personal lender into a bank that now has $120 million of assets says he is about to retire -- again.

Citing health reasons, chairman and chief executive officer C. Jack Bean, 71, said he will step down Sept. 21 from the business that his father founded in 1932.

Mr. Bean plans to remain a bank director and an adviser to his successor, Charles M. Ireland, 52. Mr. Ireland has 21 years of banking experience with Landmark Bank, NationsBank Texas, and Texas American Bank.

This is Mr. Bean's second retirement from Surety, which he took public in 1985. Surety now has a little more than two-thirds of the $176 million-asset base it had when Mr. Bean resigned almost three years ago.

Surety's chief operating officer, Bobby W. Hackler, succeeded Mr. Bean in February 1997. Surety lost $3.7 million that year and $1.9 million in 1998, and Mr. Hackler resigned. Surety subsequently sold off eight of its 15 branches to cover its debt obligations.

Surety once was among the fastest-growing banking companies in Texas. From 1990 to 1995 its assets increased ninefold to more than $100 million. In a 1995 American Banker story, Mr. Bean said he hoped to pilot the company past the $500 million-asset mark.

"That's up to other management now," he said last week. "It's still very possible one of these days. I wish I would have made it to that goal, but I didn't." -- Craig Woker

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