Former WesBanco President, CEO Ned George II Remembered for Human Touch in Banking Industry
Ned George II never forgot that, among all the numbers and the dollar signs that the banking industry entailed, it was a business about people.
Friends and coworkers say that George’s spirit, personality and love of people allowed him to build a deep and significant influence in the Ohio Valley banking community and the Ohio Valley community as a whole.
George, who served as president and CEO as well as chairman of the board of directors at WesBanco, died Sunday at age 84 at Liza’s Place. His time in the banking community spanned more than five decades in a number of roles.
That career was rooted in his desire to help others, said former WesBanco senior vice president Dave Pell.
“He was really concerned about the welfare of other people, both the customers and the employees,” Pell said. “He always measured every decision on how it would impact the customers. Whenever we faced a decision, he always measured the impact on customers and employees.”
A 1954 Wellsburg High graduate and 1958 graduate of Washington & Lee, George started as a bank examiner at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in 1966. He returned to the Ohio Valley in 1973 as a vice-president of Half Dollar Trust & Savings Bank, now United Bank. In 1981, he was elected President and CEO of Wellsburg National Bank, now WesBanco, and held that job until 1983, when he moved to Wheeling Dollar Savings & Trust Co., now WesBanco.
At WesBanco, he was a vice-president, senior vice-president and executive vice-president before being elected president and CEO in 1993. He held that role until his 2001 retirement. He also was named to the WesBanco Board of Directors in 1991 and stayed there until 2009, serving as chairman and vice chairman during that time. He also was a member of the bank’s executive loan committee until 2017.
George earned several accolades in his career. A longtime board member and chairman of the West Virginia Bankers Association, he was named the group’s Banker of the Year in 1998. He also was a former member of the State of West Virginia Banking & Financial Institutions Board and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Small Bank Advisory Council.
Attorney Jim Gardill worked with George in several ways. He was WesBanco president when Gardill was the bank’s board chairman. He was Gardill’s client. George’s son, Ned III, is a partner at Phillips, Gardill, Kaiser & Altmeyer.
Gardill said that as a strategic thinker and quick study, George was very instrumental in moving WesBanco forward as an organization.
“He could have a serious conversation, but have a good time with it,” Gardill said. “He was able to blend both humor and business to keep things light, which really helped us solve a lot of issues. He could do that at any level, face to face with a customer or in a group environment at a board meeting or a regional board.”
George was a trustee of several organizations, including Bethany College, Ohio Valley Health Services & Education Corp. and Wheeling Country Day School. He also was a former director and chairman of the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce and the Ohio Valley Industrial & Business Development Corporation, now known as RED.
George also loved golf and was able to play at such legendary courses as the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie in Scotland, Pebble Beach, Oakmont, Firestone. He played many rounds at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, and was a member of the Ohio Valley Seniors Golf Association and a member and former President of the Wheeling Country Club. As a member of the Williams Country Club in Weirton, he scored a pair of holes-in-one on that course’s No. 8 hole, 16 years apart.
Pell and George were part of a foursome that tried to golf at least one round a week. Pell said that, above everything, George loved golfing for the camaraderie.
George enjoyed being around people, former WesBanco Bank President and CEO Kris Molnar said, and enjoyed getting the best out of people. George hired Molnar in 1976 and the two became lifetime friends. She watched him discern what motivated the people who worked for him and used those strengths to bring out the best in them.
“I’ve redefined what a mentor means to me because of what Ned did to help me,” she said. “I look at it much differently. He set an example for me for leadership, for community support and involvement and I’ve met the objectives I’ve had in my life and that’s had to do with the input I’ve received from him.”