John Medlin, former Wachovia CEO, dies at age 78

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John Medlin (The Winston-Salem Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — John Medlin Jr., one of Wachovia Corp.’s most well-respected executives and a state banking icon, died Thursday at 78.

According to his family, Medlin died of a heart attack suffered while playing tennis at Grandfather Mountain.

Medlin worked at Wachovia for 41 years, serving as chief executive for 17 years until retiring on Jan. 1, 1994. He retired after 10 years as chairman in 1998.

He earned a reputation as a conservative, no-nonsense businessman who turned a large Winston-Salem community bank into a blue-chip powerhouse in the Southeast. During his time as CEO, Wachovia’s total assets rose tenfold to $32.9 billion, making it among the 25 largest U.S. banks.

“John was widely regarded as the leading banker of his generation,” said Rodgin Cohen, a close friend of Medlin’s and chairman of Sullivan & Cromwell LLP, a prominent law firm that helped handle the Wachovia-First Union and Wachovia-SouthTrust deals.

The amount of Wachovia stock held in the local community for decades was a testament to the trust that investors, both rich and middle-class, placed in Medlin’s ability to steer clear of the risk of what’s hot and trendy in banking circles.

This article was written by Richard Craver and originally published by The Winston-Salem Journal. Click here to read the full story.

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