PHILADELPHIA Richard S. Ravenscroft, 75, of Bryn Mawr, a former executive who led Philadelphia's largest commercial bank during the 1980s, died Thursday, Dec. 19, at Bryn Mawr Hospital after a long battle with lung illness.
Mr. Ravenscroft was president of Philadelphia National Bank and a vice chairman of the successor firm, CoreStates Financial.
A 1959 graduate of Yale University, Mr. Ravenscroft made his living as a banker, consultant, and investor, but he often charmed friends, family, and community members with his love of singing and gardening, according to his relatives.
"We have really enjoyed his intelligence, his wit, his ability to see all sides of an issue and direct your attention to where it went," said Susan Ravenscroft, his wife of 43 years. "He was a good manager not only in banking but in cultural institutions and his family."
Mr. Ravenscroft, who had one son, two daughters, and three grandchildren, served as a director and treasurer of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He also was chairman of the Avenue of the Arts Council and a trustee of the Fairmount Park Art Association.
"He was a renaissance man," James Pope, a banking colleague and friend of Mr. Ravenscroft's, said Sunday. "He had so many different interests, and he was so good at all of them. He has left quite an impression in the city, and that will live on."
Mr. Ravenscroft spent a large part of his professional life at PNB, entering the bank's training program in 1960 and rising to lead the subsidiary Philadelphia International Investment Corp. in 1966 and to become PNB president in 1980.
"He had the perception to look through all of the baloney and find the kernel of value that a person had to contribute," said Jim Warden, a banking colleague.
Warden, who attended Yale with Mr. Ravenscroft, recalled how "cool" Mr. Ravenscroft looked when he performed with the Yale Whiffenpoofs, a collegiate a cappella group.
"He was very special," Warden said. "He was his own person all of the time and had tremendous integrity."
Mr. Ravenscroft left CoreStates in 1986 and became a private investor. He facilitated the creation of the Berwind Financial Group, which was founded in 1990 and went out of business in 2001.
The post-Ravenscroft CoreStates made a series of acquisitions until it was acquired by First Union Corp. in 1998 in a $16.6 billion purchase, which at the time was unprecedented. That marked the end of Philadelphia's last big bank of local ownership. The bank is now part of Wells Fargo.
Mr. Ravenscroft, in a 1997 Inquirer interview, said he had had higher hope for the fate of CoreStates.
"What we had hoped would become a super-regional bank, like First Union or Banc One, is now just another very attractive thing to be swallowed up," he said.
Even after the bank lost its identity to corporate takeovers, Mr. Ravenscroft would still wear a necktie with the PNB insignia on it. He also helped organize a PNB 200th anniversary celebration in 2003, according to his friends and banking colleagues.
"After he left the bank, he learned to play the piano," Susan Ravenscroft said. "It was really fun to live with him all of these years."
A memorial service for Mr. Ravenscroft will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 4, at the Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Church of the Redeemer or to the Philadelphia Orchestra.