Urban Financial Services Coalition has lost a champion, supporter, and dear friend – Robert McNeely. Mr. McNeely was a long time Urban Banker (San Diego) and former Corporate Advisory Board Member.
The San Diego Union Tribune – McNeely
Robert McNeely, a bank executive who headed up community development programs that invested in bettering low-income neighborhoods here and throughout California for more than two decades, died of pancreatic cancer Monday. He was 76.
Mr. McNeely, who retired from Union Bank in 2009 as executive vice president and director of the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility Group, helped develop the bank’s community reinvestment strategy and oversaw a multibillion dollar budget for community redevelopment statewide. The programs he managed infused money into some of San Diego’s most underserved communities to provide loans for homes and small businesses, and grants to community organizations.
He was committed to the community professionally and personally. He was part of a group of bankers who founded the Neighborhood National Bank. His work aided local groups that care for Latino foster children and provide tutoring to struggling students through grants. And he donated his own money to help the homeless.
Bob Brower, president of Point Loma Nazarene University, where Mr. McNeely was a member of the President’s Community Council, recalled Mr. McNeely as having an energy and optimism that drew people to him. He called him a deeply thoughtful and insightful man who invested himself in others.
“Bob was always looking for ways to involve people, and to help people with opportunities,” Brower said. “He always took leadership positions that would help build community through people. It seemed to be part of his DNA.”
Mr. McNeely was a young bank officer in Los Angeles when the Watts riots erupted in 1965. Troubled that banks did not immediately lend money into the neighborhood to save businesses and rebuild the community, he said in a May 10, 2007, Union-Tribune story, he felt helpless in the situation. That would change in 1992 when the Rodney King riots hit the city. By that time, Mr. McNeely had become a key player in Union Bank’s community reinvestment plan and, along with executives from 26 banks, created the Community Financial Resource Center in South Central Los Angeles to provide financial aid and advice on rebuilding.
Mr. McNeely served as the center’s founding chairman. In 2003, the center established the Robert McNeely Trailblazer Award to annually honor an individual who demonstrates visionary work and strategic leadership in the field of economic development.
Rev. George Walker Smith, a longtime friend, said Mr. McNeely was the first black person in San Diego to gain such a high position in local banking, and that he used his influence to make changes that would open opportunities in the banking field for other black people.
“I don’t know another person who involved himself so unselfishly in aiding those who needed aid,” Smith said. “A lot of the change he brought with Union Bank was eventually adopted by other banks. What was important was that he had the respect of the community because of his commitment.”
Mr. McNeely held positions in a number of local and national organizations, having served as regional vice president of the California Historical Society, a member of the President’s Diversity and Equity Community Advisory Council at San Diego State University, and chairman of the United Negro College Fund of San Diego County.
In 2003, he was appointed to the board of the Center City Development Corp., where he served six years.
Robert Arthur McNeely was born June 3, 1939, in Los Angeles, the oldest of three sons to Arthur John McNeely and Celia Dye McNeely. He worked for Bank of America from 1962 to 1968, taking leave to serve in the Army, where he was assigned to the Finance Corps for two years. He joined Gateway National Bank in 1968 and weathered through several sales and mergers that brought about Union Bank.
Mr. McNeely moved to San Diego in 1988, the year he was named to the corporate responsibility post. After retiring, he remained a senior executive adviser to the bank.
Mr. McNeely was a 1971 graduate of the University of Washington Pacific Coast Banking School. and a 1973 graduate of the School of Bank Marketing at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
A resident of the county for 27 years, Mr. McNeely resided in the Sunset Cliffs area of Point Loma. He died Monday in a San Diego hospital.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 21 at Point Loma Community Presbyterian Church, with burial to follow at Greenwood Memorial Park. A reception will be held at 2 p.m. at Christ United Presbyterian Church.
Survivors include his wife of 27 years, the former Delores Ozier; two daughters, Janine McNeely Fields of Scripps Miramar and Denise McNeely Harris of Reseda; a son, Jeffrey Bell of Skyline; two brothers, Howard McNeely and Herbert McNeely, both of Los Angeles; and six grandchildren.
For more information about his legacy to our industry, please visit: http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/robert-mcneely-union/
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the McNeely family in their time of grief.