Banker, philanthropist John. G. McCoy ’35 passes away at the age of 97

Before John G. McCoy became a banking giant and one of Ohio’s biggest philanthropists, he was a Marietta College student.

Born and raised in Marietta, McCoy graduated from Marietta College with a Bachelor of Arts in Business in 1935. The man known around campus as “Mr. Marietta,” died Sunday (April 4, 2010) at his home in New Albany, Ohio. He was 97. (To view a photo gallery of McCoy click here.)

“John G. McCoy was unflagging in his love of Marietta College. A concerned alumnus and trustee and a generous donor, he supported Marietta College through good times and bad.  His particular interest was in Marietta College’s people—its faculty and students—and his philanthropy was primarily directed to the support of those people through the McCoy Professorships and McCoy Scholarships,” says Marietta President Dr. Jean A. Scott. “He loved hearing about the achievements of ‘his’ students and faculty and getting to know them personally. John G. McCoy was an inspiration, and a very good friend to me. I told him that I considered him to be ‘Mr. Marietta,’ and I cannot imagine anyone more deserving of that title. The last time I saw him, in January of this year, he was looking forward to visiting the College this spring. The Marietta College community has lost one of its very finest members, and as we mourn that loss, we also celebrate all he meant to us during his long and meaningful life.”

McCoy, who remained one of Marietta College’s biggest benefactors until his death, inspired another generation of donors. “He really was the alpha of giving to Marietta—the one who encouraged the school to dream,” says Laura Baudo Sillerman ’68.

McCoy began his career at City National Bank and Trust in Columbus, Ohio, in 1937. After serving in the United States Navy (1943-45) as Chief Financial Advisor to the War Production Board, he returned to his banking career. He became President of City National Bank in 1958, and rose to become its Chairman and CEO, while building it into the Banc One Corporation. He served as President and CEO, Vice Chairman and CEO, and Chairman of the Executive Committee of Banc One, retiring in 1984. McCoy was an industry leader in seeing the potential of bank mergers and was one of the first in banking to take on unconventional ways to gain customers.

McCoy received numerous awards, including a Certificate of Distinction from Financial World Magazine and the C. William O’Neill Distinguished Award for Achievement from the Marietta Chamber of Commerce. He received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Marietta College in 1981, and was inducted into the Ohio Foundation of Independent College’s Hall of Excellence in 1991.

McCoy served on the Marietta College Board of Trustees from 1966-87. He was instrumental in ensuring the success of the Sesquicentennial Anniversary Capital Campaign in 1980-85. In 1962, the McCoy family erected the McCoy Memorial Gateway in memory of their father.

Among McCoy’s greatest loves at Marietta College were the faculty and students. Along with his late wife, Jeanne B. McCoy, they established John G. and Jeanne B. McCoy Endowment for Teaching Excellence in 1993 and the John G. and Jeanne B. McCoy Scholarship Program in 1998.

The teaching award created incentives and rewards designed to raise the level of teaching excellence at Marietta to that of “one of the best and most contemporary liberal arts colleges in the nation” by rewarding teaching excellence among the most outstanding current faculty members at Marietta College; encouraging other faculty at Marietta College to aspire to greater teaching excellence; attracting new faculty to Marietta College who have already demonstrated exceptional ability as teachers. Appointment as a McCoy Professor is for four years, with renewal possible.

The scholarship program was established to promote and recognize outstanding academic ability and achievement in an incoming freshman student. The award includes tuition, fees, room & board, and books for four years of study. The scholarship is renewable provided the student demonstrates good character, maintains at least a 3.5 cumulative grade point average, and shows evidence of leadership among the Marietta College student body.

McCoy’s wife, the former Jeanne Bonnet, whom he married in 1941, died in 2006. They are survived by two children, John B. (Jane T.) of Columbus and Virginia McCoy of Kansas City, Mo., in addition to three grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

John and Jeanne McCoy lived for many years in Bexley before moving to New Albany. In addition to Marietta, they were also generous philanthropists in Central Ohio. Mrs. McCoy donated $1.2 million to Ohio State University, to underwrite the Jeanne Bonnet McCoy Presidential Scholars Fund, while Mr. McCoy gave $2 million in honor of his wife to help build the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany.

Calling hours will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday (April 8) at Schoedinger’s Downtown Columbus chapel. A funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Friday (April 9) at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bexley, with private burial to follow in Green Lawn Cemetery.

The family has asked that any donations in Mr. McCoy’s memory be made to Marietta College or Ohio State. To make a donation to Marietta click here.