Edward E. Crutchfield, a banker who grew a small North Carolina bank into one of the nation’s largest through a deal-making spree that earned him the nickname “Fast Eddie” and helped establish Charlotte as a national financial hub, died on Jan. 2 at his home in Vero Beach, Fla. He was 82.
His death was confirmed by his son, Elliott Crutchfield, who said his father had dementia.
When Mr. Crutchfield graduated from business school in 1965, he took a job as a credit analyst at First Union bank in Charlotte, N.C. It was the lowest-paying job he was offered but he thought he could move up faster at a smaller bank. He sensed opportunity, he told his family and colleagues, at the bank and in the region.
Both hunches paid off. At age 32, just seven years after he joined First Union, he became its president and was thought to be the youngest person in the country to hold that title at a sizable bank. His ambitions were broadened by a 1985 Supreme Court ruling legalizing interstate banking. The decision empowered Mr. Crutchfield, by then his bank’s chairman and chief executive, to gobble up rival banks and failed thrifts, transforming First Union into a super-regional bank with thousands of branches throughout the Southeast.
“I just had a feeling that what turned out to be the Sun Belt would be a good bet,” he told The New York Times in 1983, shortly before he began his buying binge. “I guess we’re rubbing the rabbit’s foot the right way.”