RALEIGH, N.C., Aug. 29, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Lewis Royall Holding, 81, retired Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of First Citizens BancShares, Inc. and its First Citizens Bank and IronStone Bank subsidiaries, died today, August 29, 2009, following a brief illness.
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The North Carolina banker, business and civic leader and philanthropist guided the growth of the Raleigh, N.C.-headquartered company for more than 50 years, prior to his retirement in February 2009. His leadership was instrumental in First Citizens' progress from a regional Eastern North Carolina banking institution to a national financial holding company with more than $17 billion in assets and banking subsidiaries that today operate 412 branches in 17 states.
"Lewis R. Holding was the consummate banker, businessman and visionary," said Frank B. Holding Jr., the current Chairman and CEO of each company and Holding's nephew. "His focus on integrity and skillful credit management led First Citizens to grow into one of the safest, strongest and most stable financial institutions in the nation. He truly cared about associates, customers and shareholders. His commitment to philanthropy, the arts and economic development in North Carolina was extensive and often unheralded. He was a remarkable man and positioned our company well for the future. With First Citizens, he left a lasting legacy."
Holding is survived by his wife, Carolyn Short Holding, and two daughters, Caroline Holding Sauls and husband Michael Sauls of Raleigh; Carmen Holding Ames and husband Sheppard Kellam Ames III of Raleigh; and two grandchildren, Sheppard Kellam Ames IV and Carolyn Royall Ames. He is also survived by his brother Frank Brown Holding and his wife Ella Ann Holding of Smithfield, N.C., and nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be Monday, Aug. 31, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the home of his daughter, Carmen Holding Ames, 2220 White Oak Road, Raleigh. A private, family graveside funeral service will be held in Smithfield, N.C. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Lewis R. Holding Leadership Fund at the North Carolina Community Foundation, 4601 Six Forks Road, Suite 524, Raleigh, N.C., 27609, or to a charity of choice.
Lewis Royall Holding joined First Citizens Bank full time in 1953 and was named President and CEO in 1957 at age 29. He served as President until 1979, when he was elected Chairman. In January 2008, he was succeeded as CEO by his nephew, Frank B. Holding Jr. In February 2009, Holding relinquished his duties as Chairman of BancShares and its First Citizens Bank and IronStone Bank subsidiaries and retired from the Boards of Directors. Frank B. Holding Jr. was subsequently elected Chairman of each company.
Lewis Holding was born on Sept. 29, 1927, in Smithfield, N.C., the second of three sons of Robert Powell and Margaret (Brown) Holding. As a child, his hair was so blond it was sometimes mistaken for white, giving him the nickname "Snow." His father, the late R.P. Holding, had worked his way up to President and Chairman of First Citizens and played a key role in the bank's early development.
Lewis Holding graduated from Smithfield High School in 1944 and from Darlington School in Rome, Ga., in 1945. In the fall of 1946, he entered Wake Forest College and the next year transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From June 1948 to June 1949, he served in the North Carolina National Guard, attaining the rank of corporal.
Following his graduation from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1950, Holding enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, where he received his master's degree in 1952. (In 2003, Forbes Magazine recognized Holding as having the longest tenure at the top of a Forbes 500s company for a Harvard graduate.)
After completing Harvard, Holding was commissioned in the United States Air Force and served as a first lieutenant.
During his teens and early 20s, Holding worked for First Citizens Bank in several branches, including Smithfield, Burgaw, Morehead City and Angier. Upon being honorably discharged from the service, he returned to Smithfield in 1953 to join First Citizens Bank full time and quickly rose through the ranks. In July 1956, he was promoted to Vice President and placed in charge of the Raleigh office, the largest in the institution's growing system.
In August 1957, upon the death of his father, management passed to Holding and his brothers, all under 32 years of age. Lewis Holding, 29, became President. His older brother Robert Jr., then 31, was elected Chairman of the Board, and Frank, 27, was named Vice President. At that time, the bank had less than $200 million in assets and fewer than 35 offices, all in Eastern North Carolina.
In his position as President, Holding sought new markets for First Citizens, opening new offices and blanketing North Carolina from the coast through the Piedmont and into the mountains. First Citizens soon passed the plateau of $1 billion in assets and later transferred the home office in Smithfield to the commercial and financial center of Raleigh.
First Citizens became well known throughout North Carolina as the "Can-Do" bank, a popular slogan introduced during Holding's presidency.
Upon the death of his brother Robert in 1979, Lewis Holding was elected Chairman of the Board.
In 1986, the company incorporated, becoming First Citizens BancShares. Under Holding's leadership, BancShares expanded its banking operations outside the state of North Carolina for the first time and strategically positioned its subsidiaries in new high-growth markets, mostly on a de novo basis.
In the 1990s, First Citizens Bank crossed state lines and opened offices in western and southern Virginia and West Virginia. In the 2000s, Holding added First Citizens locations in Northern Virginia and moved the bank into Tennessee and Maryland.
Holding's vision also led to the formation of Atlantic States Bank (now known as IronStone Bank), a federally chartered thrift institution, which made its debut in Georgia in 1997 and in Florida a year later.
In 2002, Holding formed IronStone Bank, a western division of Atlantic States. The opening of IronStone's office in Austin, Texas, marked the company's first foray west of the Mississippi. A little more than a year later, Holding had launched 11 IronStone branches in other growing markets such as Scottsdale, Ariz., and Orange County, San Diego and Sacramento, Calif. By 2004, Atlantic States Bank changed its name to IronStone to reflect the bank's steady western progress. Holding personally pioneered the expansion of IronStone. He toured and targeted new high-growth markets, selected locations, helped design offices and took great care building the business.
During his tenure, Holding was instrumental in developing innovative products and technology, including services that have become industry standards, such as simple interest installment loans. He was also founder and Chairman of Atlantic States Bankcard Association, a regional credit card association in Raleigh.
Holding aggressively sought opportunities to target small to mid-sized businesses and professionals, and in recent years, he focused attention on insurance, online banking and an array of wealth management services. He established the First Citizens Investor Services subsidiary to provide various investment products.
Even with expansion, Holding solidified the company's commitment to its Raleigh headquarters market. First Citizens opened many branches throughout the Triangle area, which today comprises the company's largest franchise with 32 offices. The company also constructed a 370,000-square-foot Data Center complex near downtown Raleigh.
In 2007, BancShares moved its company headquarters to a nine-story office building in the premier Midtown (North Hills) area of Raleigh. The First Citizens Center brings together many corporate and support functions at a single location, near other BancShares' offices that make up a company campus.
In 2008, Holding founded BancShares' first international location, a representative office in London, England.
As a result of Holding's vision, First Citizens BancShares' subsidiaries today provide a full spectrum of financial services to customers in more than 200 communities from Wilmington, N.C., to San Diego, Calif.
Because of Holding's leadership, First Citizens Bank's 355 branches continue to provide the bank's 111-year tradition of relationship-driven banking to customers in North Carolina, California, Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. IronStone Bank's 57 branches deliver financial services to the small business, medical, professional and retail markets in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Throughout his career, Holding's commitment to the community was significant.
The North Carolina Community Foundation is the vision and work of Lewis Holding. He conceived and organized the Foundation and served as President and a board member. Today, the North Carolina Community Foundation is one of the state's largest donor-advised foundations.
His influence extended to the boards of many business organizations, including North Carolina Citizens for Business and Industry (now known as the North Carolina Chamber). He is a former director and secretary of the James E. and Mary Z. Bryan Foundation and chaired the board of American Defender Life Insurance Company.
In addition, he was a member of the North Carolina Stadium Authority and the North Carolina Forestry Association. He was elected President of the Young Bankers' Division of the North Carolina Bankers Association in 1958. He was appointed by Gov. Terry Sanford in 1963 to serve on the North Carolina Banking Commission and was reappointed to another four-year term by Gov. Dan Moore in 1967.
Holding served on the board at Ravenscroft School in Raleigh from 1968 to 1987 and as its Chairman for more than a decade, succeeding his late brother Robert in that capacity. He and his brother were instrumental in moving the school to its present campus and expanding it substantially. He also helped implement long-range strategic and financial plans for the school and raised funds to ensure its growth and viability into the future.
From 1967 to 1987, he served as a member of the North Carolina Art Museum Building Commission. His work on the Commission resulted in the museum's move to its current location on Blue Ridge Road, making it accessible and capable of serving the future needs of the museum and North Carolinians alike.
Holding's love of art and architecture is reflected in BancShares' offices and branches, which are among the best-known landmarks in the communities they serve. As a result of Holding's insistence on quality, the company's offices are recognized for their timeless architecture, prominent design and significant artwork. They stand as physical symbols of BancShares' stability, strength and long-term view of banking.
Holding received many honors during his career - from his selection as Raleigh's Young Man of the Year in 1958 to his induction into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 2003. He served as State Chairman of the Crusade for Freedom in 1959-60 and made a trip to Europe to gain further knowledge of the Crusade and Radio Free Europe.
These photos are also available via AP PhotoExpress.
First Citizens BancShares Barbara Thompson (919) 716-2716
First Citizens BancShares Inc.
Raleigh, North Carolina, UNITED STATES
First Citizens BancShares Barbara Thompson (919) 716-2716
Lewis R. Holding, retired Chairman and CEO of First Citizens BancShares
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Portrait of Lewis R. Holding, retired Chairman and CEO
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