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I. Owen Funderburg, the man credited for building Citizens Trust Bank (No. 4 on the 2001 BE BANKS list with $267.28 million in assets) into one of the most successful African American banks passed away January 26 at the age of 77.
Funderburg took over as president and ceo in 1975 when Citizens Trust had burned through its capital and needed to restructure operations. Under his leadership, the bank issued a series of preferred stock and capital notes totaling $3 million to Atlanta-area banks, the Ford Foundation, Minbank, and other financial institutions. Funderberg’s successful reorganization lead BE to name Citizens Trust the 1985 Bank of the Year.
During Funderburg’s tenure, the bank also opened in-store branches, installed ATMs, and brought the bank’s technology into the computer age. “At the time there was no data processing in the bank and he engineered that process for us,” says James Young, the current CEO of Citizens Trust.
Funderburg retired in 1991, capping a 17-year career with the bank. “He was an icon for other minority banks and other minority-bank CEOs,” says Young. “A lot of people sought his counsel, including myself. He was a very giving man.”
Prior to his tenure at Citizens Trust, Funderburg was a cashier and board member of Mechanics and Farmers Bank in Durham, North Carolina, and chief executive officer for Gateway National Bank in St. Louis.