By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – He’s been more than a banker, say friends and colleagues of retiring BancorpSouth Chairman and CEO Aubrey Patterson.
A successor to Patterson, 69, is expected to be named by next April. Patterson has been with the financial holding company for 40 years.
“I consider Aubrey and outstanding banker, a good friend and a valued citizen and leader,” said Robin McGraw, the chairman and CEO of Renasant, whose headquarters is across the street from BancorpSouth. “We have worked together in civic and charitable endeavors not only in Tupelo, but throughout the state, and his contributions are immeasurable.”
Hassell Franklin, the founder and CEO of furniture manufacturer Franklin Corp., heads the search committee to find Patterson’s replacement.
He commended Patterson’s more than two decades as chairman and CEO, noting the company had increased its assets from $1.5 billion to $13.3 billion and expanded into eight other states during his time at the helm.
“We are very appreciative of his complete commitment to BancorpSouth and its employees, clients and shareholders during his leadership tenure,” Franklin said.
Bobby Martin, chairman and president of The Peoples Bank of Ripley, said Patterson deserves accolades
“I admire him for all he has done for banking around here and for banking in Mississippi,” he said. “He’s an outstanding business man and he makes the right decisions.”
Patterson joined the company – then known as the Bank of Mississippi – in 1972. He was president and chief operating officer when the statewide banking law was approved in 1987. BancorpSouth’s predecessor became Mississippi’s first statewide bank with its merger with First Mississippi National Bank.
He was president and CEO from 1990 to 1991 and was named chairman and CEO in 1991. It was at this time the bank saw its biggest growth.
After the federal interstate banking law was passed in 1992, the bank expanded into Tennessee, followed by expansion into Alabama six years later. In 1999, as the bank moved into Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas and grew into a $9 billion financial institution, it was renamed BancorpSouth.
Patterson is well-regarded in the banking community, having been chairman of the American Bankers Association and president of the Mississippi Bankers Association.
“He’s done great things with the bank,” Martin said.
Charles Russell, Trustmark Bank’s Tupelo president called Patterson a “stalwart in the banking industry, not just in Mississippi but the Southeast.”
Various civic organizations and economic and business groups also have been a large part of Patterson’s life outside banking. He’s also been a statewide leader in education; he currently is serving an 11-year term on the state’s board of trustees of the Institutions of Higher Learning.
What Patterson’s plans are after retirement aren’t clear, but his colleagues wish him well.
Said McGraw, “I extend my best to Aubrey for an enjoyable retirement, and I wish the BancorpSouth board good fortune in the difficult task in finding his successor.”