C.S. Taylor Burke Jr., who died Jan. 11, retired as chairman of Burke & Herbert Bank and Trust Co. in 1999, but his legacy remains very much in evidence at the 149-year-old Alexandria, Va., institution.
Throughout his 52-year career Mr. Burke received numerous buyout offers but refused to consider any of them. And today, when people ask his sons, E. Hunt Burke and C.S. Taylor Burke 3d, when the privately held bank plans to sell itself, they give the same answer their father did: no time soon.
It isnt hard to start a community bank, but you cant start a 150-year-old community bank, Hunt Burke, the banks senior executive vice president, said in an interview last week.
The Burke brothers (C.S. Taylor is executive vice president) are part of the fifth generation of their family to work at Burke & Herbert, Virginias oldest bank. Their father, who died after having a stroke, was the leading member of the fourth generation. He was 76.
Burke & Herbert had assets of $4 million when Taylor Burke took control in 1951 and more than $700 million when he stepped down. Still, his son said, the chairman was cautious and would not take Burke & Herbert far beyond its roots as a small-town community bank; he opened just 14 branches in 49 years.
Though he was flamboyant in his personal life, making frequent public appearances with his beloved pet parrots Harvie and Runyon, Mr. Burke, or Taylor as he liked to be called, was every bit the conservative at work.
He had a very long-term approach, Hunt Burke said. He would rather weather any hard times than jump at every gimmick that came down the pike.
He resisted computerizing Burke & Herbert but in 1978 finally succumbed, several years after most other banks had automated.
Our vendor quit making the machines we used to process our checks, his son recalled. Otherwise I think wed still have the old ladies down in the basement using them.
On the day the computers were installed the chairman hung black crepe over the entrance at the banks headquarters in mock mourning.
Almost 23 years later, Hunt Burke found the very same crepe in his fathers office and put it back above the entrance, this time in genuine sorrow.
I think he would have appreciated that.