When James R. Lauffer won a cash prize last year at a high school basketball game in Mount Pleasant, he rose from his seat and gave the winnings to an Iraq War veteran who was being honored during the game.
"He just ... gave," said one of Mr. Lauffer's sons, Michael, of Mount Pleasant. "He was a great dad, a great person to everyone."
"He many times loaned money to employees, most of the time not getting paid back," said Sharon Diable, Mr. Lauffer's secretary at First National Bank of Herminie.
Mr. Lauffer, 73, of Mount Pleasant, died of a heart attack Saturday at UPMC Presbyterian.
He spent his career in banking, after receiving a bachelor's degree in accounting at Shippensburg State University in 1962. He obtained a master's in business administration from Duquesne University in 1972, the same year he graduated from Graduate School of Banking of the University of Wisconsin.
He served as chairman, president and CEO of the First National Bank of Herminie from 1971 to 2001 and was chairman, president and CEO of FNB Corp. from 1983 to 2001. In addition, he held the positions of chairman of consulting firm for First Insurance Management from 1998-2001; chairman of Town and Country Mortgage from 1999-2001; and chairman and president of Community Bank of Pennsylvania, now known as PACB, from 1980-1981.
He was a board member of the Independent Community Banks of America from 1983-2002, serving as chairman and president from 1993-1994, and past chairman of ICBA Financial Services Corp. of Memphis, Tenn., and of the Pennsylvania Banker Association Group, among other banking positions.
Continuing education was important to him, and Mr. Lauffer attended bank investment school at Southern Methodist University in 1979, senior bank officers' school at Harvard in 1984, and the senior bank officers' school at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School in 1986. Mr. Lauffer received the Jesse S. Heiges Distinguished Alumnus Award at Shippensburg in 1994.
A combination of degrees, hard work and dedication to those whom he served earned him the nickname "Chief," Ms. Diable said.
Representing small banks across the nation, Mr. Lauffer served as a member of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's Small Bank Advisory Council.
In many aspects of his life, Mr. Lauffer sought to teach others. "He should have been a professor," said Ms. Diable, who also noted religion was important to him. "He loved the Lord, his personal savior, and he was constantly telling people to make sure that their heart was right because the end was near," she said.
In addition to his son, Michael, Mr. Lauffer is survived by another son, Russell Scott "Rusty" of Irwin; a brother, Larry R. of Hempfield; and three grandchildren.
A memorial service will be announced by the Saloom-Rega Funeral Service in Mount Pleasant.
Andrew Gretchko: email@example.com.