Dictionary of Virginia Biography

Frederick Deane (5 August 1926–14 April 1992), banker, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and was the son of Frederick Deane, an investment broker, and Julia Shepley Coolidge Deane. After graduating from Milton Academy in 1944, he entered the United States Army, where he served for about two years during World War II and rose to first lieutenant. Deane married Dorothy Legge, a native of Charleston, South Carolina, on 21 December 1948. They had two daughters and one son. Deane received an MBA from Harvard University in June 1951. Recalled to active duty that month and assigned to the Central Intelligence Agency, he worked in Washington, D.C., during the Korean War as assistant to the covert operations deputy until his discharge in February 1953.

After concluding his military service, Deane, usually called Rick, settled in Richmond, where his wife had family. He had spent summer breaks during his school years working at banks in Boston and in Wareham. In August 1953 Deane became assistant to Thomas Callendine Boushall, founder and president of the Bank of Virginia. Established in 1922 as the Morris Plan Bank of Richmond, it had branches in six Virginia cities by 1953 and assets totaling $100 million. Deane assumed management of the bank's multimillion-dollar investments in 1955. He was promoted to vice president the following year and became senior vice president in 1959.

Although the Bank of Virginia could boast of $176 million in assets by 1962, Deane and bank president Herbert C. Moseley, who had replaced the retired Boushall, sought to expand further by establishing a holding company of affiliated banks. In January 1962 the State Corporation Commission granted a charter for Virginia Commonwealth Corporation, which comprised the Bank of Virginia and four smaller banks in the counties of Henrico, Prince William, and Warwick (later part of Newport News) and the town of Salem. Formally approved by the Federal Reserve the following December, Virginia Commonwealth Corporation became the state's fourth-largest banking institution, with assets totaling more than $218 million. In anticipation of this change, Deane's responsibilities as the bank's senior vice president had been broadened by November to include duties as executive vice president and operating head of the new corporation.

After winning promotion to executive vice president of the Bank of Virginia in 1965, Deane remained president of the holding company, which changed its name the following year to Virginia Commonwealth Bankshares. When Moseley retired in 1967, Deane replaced him as the president and chief administrative officer of the bank, which held assets of more than $317 million. Two years later Deane stepped down from managing the bank's daily operations but continued to oversee Virginia Commonwealth Bankshares as board vice chairman. In 1971 the holding company operated 109 banking offices across the state, with the Bank of Virginia accounting for 37 branches. Reflecting this growth, Virginia Commonwealth Bankshares changed its name to Bank of Virginia Company in 1972. That year the holding company's sixteen banks controlled assets approaching $1 billion, while the Bank of Virginia–Central contributed more than $500 million. By then the holding company also operated affiliated banks in Canada, the Bahamas, and the Grand Cayman Islands, as well as an insurance company, a real estate agency, and a credit-card division.

Deane was elected as the Bank of Virginia Company's chairman of the board and promoted to chief executive officer in October 1973. New state legislation five years later enabled the holding company's banks to be merged into the Bank of Virginia. Under this one-bank holding company reorganization plan, Deane became the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the consolidated Bank of Virginia, as well as of the Bank of Virginia Company. Taking advantage of changes in Virginia's interstate banking law in 1985 that allowed for interstate mergers, he orchestrated the Bank of Virginia Company's acquisition of Union Trust Bancorp of Maryland. Completed in December 1985, it was the first such merger under the new law and created a financial institution with assets of $7 billion. To reflect its new interstate composition, the holding company changed its name in July 1986 to Signet Banking Corporation. Deane remained as chairman and chief executive officer while continuing as chairman of Signet Bank/Virginia.

Deane retired as chief executive officer in April 1989 and as chairman of the board the following year but retained chairmanship of the board's executive committee until his death. When he retired, Signet Banking Corporation ranked as forty-sixth largest among United States bank holding companies, counted more than $12 billion in assets, managed the country's oldest continuous bank credit-card division, and operated 239 branches in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.

Deane served on many other boards as well, including those of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, CSX Corporation, the College of William and Mary, and the Virginia Foundation of Independent Colleges, and he received service awards from such community organizations as B'nai B'rith, the National Conference on Christians and Jews, and the United Way. Sought out by governmental agencies as well, he sat on the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve System and on the economic policy committee of the United States Chamber of Commerce.

Frederick Deane died of chronic circulatory problems on 14 April 1992 while on vacation at his winter home in Palm Beach County, Florida. His ashes were interred in the Garden of the Holy Spirit at Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church, in Richmond. The following year Signet established a $400,000 endowment in his honor at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, on whose foundation board Deane had served. The funds helped renovate one of the museum's galleries, which was named for him.

Sources Consulted:
Biography in Richard Lee Morton, comp., Virginia Lives: The Old Dominion Who's Who (1964), 258–259 (including self-reported birth and marriage dates); feature articles (all with portraits) in Richmond News Leader, 12 Nov. 1962, 11 Jan. 1985, and Richmond Times-Dispatch, 25 Mar. 1990; Bank of Virginia, Bank of Virginia Corporation, and Signet Banking Corporation Annual Reports, 1953–1991; Signet Banking Corporation Records, Virginia Historical Society, Richmond, Va.; John H. Wessells Jr., The Bank of Virginia: A History (1973); obituaries in Richmond News Leader, 15 Apr. 1992, Norfolk Virginian-Pilot and Richmond Times-Dispatch, both 16 Apr. 1992 (latter with variant death date of 15 Apr. 1992), and Washington Post, 17 Apr. 1992; editorial tribute in Richmond Times-Dispatch, 18 Apr. 1992.

Written for the Dictionary of Virginia Biography by John G. Deal.

How to cite this page:
John G. Deal, "Frederick Deane (1926–1992)," Dictionary of Virginia Biography, Library of Virginia (1998– ), published 2015 (http://www.lva.virginia.gov/public/dvb/bio.asp?b=Deane_Frederick, accessed [today's date]).

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