Slideshow Blasts from America's Banking Past, Part II

Published
  • June 03 2015, 9:00am EDT
10 Images Total

American Banker dug into its archives for photos of some of the most influential banking figures of the 20th century, from the regulators who managed the 1980s savings-and-loan crisis to the visionaries who created the modern megabank. Hungry for more? Check out our previous slideshow, "Blasts from America's Banking Past."

Without Borders

North Carolina banker Edward Crutchfield pioneered interstate banking as the head of First Union Corp., leading the Charlotte-based bank through more than 100 acquisitions to become a $253-billion-asset company. He retired in 2000, shortly before the banking heavyweight merged with Wachovia.

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Regrets, He's Had a Few

John S. Reed played a key role in making Citigroup the mega-institution it is today, leading the commercial bank through an $83 billion merger with Travelers Group in 1998 and going on to co-chair the combined conglomerate with Sandy Weill. But Reed has had second thoughts on the wisdom of this move since his contentious ouster from Citi in 2000. He's since apologized for his role in the merger and suggested that it would be best to break up the big banks.

Empty Pockets

Donald Trump and his trademark coiffure have been through four bouts of corporate (never personal) bankruptcy, starting back in 1991. "I was a great partner," the real estate developer declared in a 1994 American Banker profile detailing his negotiations with creditors including Bankers Trust New York and Chemical. "The problems at the Grand Hyatt stem from horrendous management by the Hyatt chain. If I am able to turn that hotel around — which I will — the banks come out fantastic." (Two years later, he sold his half interest in that Manhattan hotel to his erstwhile Hyatt partners.)

The Comeback Chief

TCF Financial chairman and chief executive William Cooper came out of retirement during the 2008 financial crisis to steer the floundering Minnesota bank back to steady waters. He plans to step down as CEO at the end of the year-presumably for good this time around. Here he is during the first chapter of his TCF reign, circa 1994.

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The Golden Days

Over the second half of the 20th century, Marion Sandler and her husband expanded Golden West Financial from a small California thrift to a sprawling mortgage-lending operation with nearly 300 offices in 10 states. The company sold itself to Wachovia in 2006 for almost $25 billion. The acquisition proved ill-fated: the adjustable-rate mortgages in Golden West's portfolio deteriorated quickly as the housing market crumbled, and the Sandlers were widely blamed for contributing to Wachovia's collapse. Marion died in 2012 at the age of 81.

Against the Grain

M&T Bank's iconic leader Robert Wilmers has been at the helm of the Buffalo, N.Y., company since May 1983-albeit with a brief break as CEO between 2005 and 2007. (Wilmers' hand-picked successor, Robert Sadler, decided he wasn't right for the job after all.) Today the 80-year-old Wilmers shows no signs of slowing down. In recent years, the outspoken bank chief has criticized excessive executive pay and "too big to fail" banks for posing too much risk to the economy.

Pushed Out

M. Danny Wall was forced to resign as the nation's top savings and loan regulator in 1989 as he came under congressional scrutiny for allegedly misjudging the extent of the thrift crisis. In his letter to then-President George H.W. Bush, Wall said that he had been made "a scapegoat to shoulder the blame" for the failure of one-third of the nation's savings and loan associations.

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The S&L Hero

As chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. during the wave of savings-and-loan failures in the 1980s, L. William Seidman gained a reputation as a man of action who helped contain the damage from the crisis. He was then made the first chairman of the Resolution Trust Corp., created to resolve the nation's failed thrifts.

From Sea to Shining Sea

Former Bank of America chairman and CEO Hugh McColl built the Charlotte, N.C., institution into a coast-to-coast powerhouse over the course of more than 50 acquisitions. He retired in 2001.