Long-time Michigan banker Bob Cole passes away

Bob Cole, long-time community banker and former chairman of the Community Bankers of Michigan, passed away August 15.

Bob Cole

Bob Cole, long-time community banker and former chairman of the Community Bankers of Michigan, passed away Aug. 15.

A Fenton, Mich., resident since 1964, Cole never intended to go into banking. He joined General Motors’ graduate training program after receiving a degree in business administration from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo. Six months in, he quit, frustrated that they wouldn’t let him do anything, he told the Fenton Tri-County Times in 2015. Instead, he landed a spot at Genesee Bank, Flint, Mich., as a teller.

He moved up through the ranks to branch manager at Genesee Bank before taking a position at First National Bank of Fenton for five years. He later spent time at Fenton’s The State Bank, where he started in banking operations and finished as president. After 15 years with The State Bank, he moved to People’s State Bank of Hamtramck, now Chemical Bank.

Cole got a real estate license shortly before retiring from the bank in 2008 and worked as a realtor for a few years as a brief second career.

“Bob was a very affable kind of guy,” said Michael Tierney, president and CEO of CBM. “He was the prototypical bank president, a guy who’s very engaged in his community, engaged civically.”

Cole was involved with the Fenton Jaycees and Fenton Kiwanis Club and was a director for the Fenton Community Center and Fenton Regional Chamber of Commerce. He was also the Michigan representative for the Independent Community Bankers of America, advocating for Michigan banks many times in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he served as chairman of the Community Bankers of Michigan from 1996-1997.

“He was a very knowledgeable community banker,” Tierney said. “A champion of community banking his whole life.”

Cole was born in 1941 and died at the age of 75. He is survived by his wife Christine and five children and their families.