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Funeral for Richard Morris Rosenberg

Memorial Image
Funeral: 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Wednesday, March 8th, 2023
Congregation Emanu El
2 Lake Street
San Francisco, CA 94118
Graveside: Private Service
Memorial Contribution: UCSF Foundation – Richard Rosenberg Fund
Box 0248
San Francisco, CA 94143
Memorial Contribution: Naval War College Foundation (NWCF)
686 Cushing Road
Newport, RI 02841-1213
(401) 848-8300

Richard M. Rosenberg

April 21, 1930 - March 3, 2023

Richard M. ("Dick") Rosenberg passed away peacefully on March 3, 2023. Rosenberg served as Chairman and CEO of Bank of America from 1990 to 1996. He was born April 21, 1930 and grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts under very humble circumstances in the throes of the depression. His mother, Betty was a Russian immigrant and his father, Charles was a combat veteran, having served as a doughboy in Europe during World War I. Unfortunately, during the depression, Charles had to leave the family to find work in the New York shipyards. As a result, the family had to move in with Rosenberg's maternal grandparents. Despite the challenges, Rosenberg thrived at Fall River's B.M.C. Durfee High School and was the sports editor for the school newspaper. He was admitted to Boston University, but due to a lack of financial resources, had to transfer early on to Suffolk University, a more economical alternative. At Suffolk, he earned a B.A. in journalism. Upon graduation, Rosenberg joined the U.S. Navy, attending Officer Candidates School in nearby Newport, R.I. Upon obtaining his officer's commission, he served in various roles including during the Korean War Conflict and in Viet Nam rescuing refugees and French troops who were escaping Ho Chi Minh after the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu. Rosenberg served eight years of active duty and another 12 years in the U.S. Naval Reserves, ultimately reaching the rank of Commander. He had a great love for the Navy and ultimately served as a Trustee of the Naval War College Foundation and would host the War College's annual west coast seminar. He was once asked by a reporter if it was a lot of responsibility and pressure running a worldwide organization the size of Bank of America. He responded, "yes it was, but nothing like being officer of the deck in darkened ship conditions steaming 1,000 yards from the flagship".

In 1956, he married Barbara Cohen. The two had attended Rosenberg's junior prom together in high school but hadn't seen each other since Rosenberg had the joined the Navy. They were both living in New York when their mothers met by accident in a coffee shop and suggested they get reacquainted. Rosenberg claimed that the marriage to Barbara was best move he ever made and counted her as his best friend and lifelong partner. He acknowledged that most of his success was due to her support, love and guidance.

In 1959, upon completion of his active Naval duty, he joined Crocker-Anglo Bank and then Wells Fargo as a payroll services salesman. He stayed at Wells Fargo for 22 years, ultimately becoming Vice Chairman. He was known as one of the most innovative bank marketing executives in the industry, pioneering pictures on checks and offering bundled packages of banking services (including safe deposit boxes, checking accounts, credit cards, savings accounts, and lines of credit). In 1989, the Wall Street Journal called him an "acknowledged retail banking marketing whiz". As Rosenberg rose in the ranks of Wells Fargo, one stop along the way was as the head of the Advertising Department. One of his ideas was to use the bank's stagecoach in a television ad and as part of the bank's logo. The ad was a big hit, and he was called into the CEO's office, expecting an "Atta Boy". Instead, he got "OK you had your fun playing cowboys and Indians. I never want to see that stagecoach again." Fortunately, the CEO retired, and the Wells Fargo Stagecoach became one of the best-known trademarks in corporate history. Not surprisingly, Rosenberg served as president of the Bank Marketing Association and was the Chairman of MasterCard International.

Along the way, Rosenberg earned a law degree and an M.B.A. at Golden Gate University in San Francisco. Many years later, he was appointed a Trustee of that University. After a brief stint with Crocker National Bank as Vice Chairman, Rosenberg joined his mentor Dick Cooley (the former CEO of Wells Fargo and then Chairman of Seafirst Bank) as president of Seafirst, which was a Seattle-based subsidiary of Bank of America.

In 1987, Rosenberg was recruited by then CEO Tom Clausen, to run Bank of America's California operations. In that role, he helped in the turnaround of the bank, which had lost $1.8 billion in that year. By 1989, the bank was once again strongly profitable earning $1.1 billion. In 1990, Rosenberg was named Chairman and CEO. With deregulation of the banking industry well underway, Rosenberg quickly realized that to compete, the bank needed to expand its operations and he undertook an aggressive acquisition program. During his tenure, he acquired numerous banking institutions, including Continental Illinois, Valley Bank in Nevada and Security Pacific National Bank, among others. At $4 billion, the Security Pacific transaction was the largest bank merger ever completed at the time and put Bank of America in a position to rival Citibank as the nation's largest banking institution. In 1996, he retired from Bank of America. During is his tenure as CEO, the bank doubled in size to $225 billion in assets and at the time of his retirement, the stock was at a record high, in terms of market capitalization.

After his retirement, Rosenberg continued to remain active in business and philanthropy. He served on numerous corporate boards, including Bank of America, Northrup Grumman, SBC Communications, Airborne Express, the Chronicle Publishing Company, Saga Foods, Pacific Life insurance Company and Healthcare Property Trust (HCP), where he served as lead director well into his 80s.

In the philanthropic area, his contributions and achievements were legendary. He served as Trustee of Caltech and the Buck Institute for Research on Aging. He was president of the San Francisco Jewish Home and at that institution, along with his wife Barbara, funded the Barbara and Richard Rosenberg Family Center. In addition, he served for many years on the boards of the San Francisco Symphony, the United Way of the Bay Area and the UCSF Medical Center. He was Chairman of the UCSF Foundation where he directed the $900 million capital campaign to build UCSF's new hospital in Mission Bay. For his various contributions to business and philanthropy, Rosenberg was elected to the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

He is survived by his wife Barbara of 66 years, his two sons Michael and Peter, two Daughters-in-Law, Ellen (Michael) and Lisa (Peter) and five grandsons, Jack, Joseph, Max, Jacob and Cyrus.

Memorial Service will be held on Wednesday, March 8 at 11:00 AM at Congregation Emanu-El at 2 Lake Street, San Francisco. Memorial service can be viewed on the following livestream link <>>