Glen E. Roney, the Icon of Banking and Philanthropist Passed Away

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A memorial service will be held at First Methodist Church of McAllen, 4200 N. McColl Road at 2 p.m. Friday, November 16.

Special to Texas Border Business

Glendon (Glen) Edward Roney
Glendon (Glen) Edward Roney

Glendon (Glen) Edward Roney was born October 29, 1930, in St. Elmo, Freestone County, Texas. His childhood job as a paperboy in Corsicana, Texas delivering the paper to Texas Governor, Beauford H. Jester, was his first experience with a Texas Governor, but it would not be his last.

While he devoted his life to banking, he would go on to serve other Texas governors, both Democrat and Republican – Governors John Connally, Dolph Briscoe, Bill Clements, Mark White, Ann Richards, George W. Bush, Rick Perry, along with Lieutenant Governors Ben Barnes and Bill Hobby. His service to both Texas and the Rio Grande Valley was a key aspect of his life’s work.

Glen attended school through sixth grade in St. Elmo in a wood frame schoolhouse; however, his first day of first grade was brief as he ran away from school to his uncle’s candy store.

Glen went on to junior high and high school in Corsicana, Texas. In 1946 his family moved to San Benito, Texas. Glen started his banking career in 1947 at the San Benito Bank and Trust Company. He began as a file clerk and often said that if the janitor’s position had been open, he would have started there.

Taking a leave of absence in 1951, Glen enlisted in the United States Air Force to serve in the Korean War. His service career from 1951 to 1954, included 18 months in the Far East Command (Japan) – as a Sergeant in the Air Weather Service. Glen attended Chillicothe Business College in Chillicothe, Missouri, along with various banking schools over the years. Upon discharge, Glen returned to San Benito, continuing a banking career that would span over 60 years. He worked in all areas of operations and lending and was promoted to Vice-President and was a member of the Board of Directors.

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In 1961 Glen accepted a position with McAllen State Bank as Chief Operations and Lending Officer and was elected to the Board of Directors. Later he was elected Executive Vice-President and Chief Executive Officer, then promoted to President. During the 1970s, he also served as a director on several bank boards, First State Bank and Trust Company in Edinburg; University State Bank in Austin, and First National Bank in Harlingen. At the same time, he worked closely with Harlingen business leaders to open a new bank in 1974 – Harlingen State Bank.

In 1979 McAllen’s skyline changed when Glen moved McAllen State Bank into its new 17-story building. Today it is still a Valley landmark and the centerpiece of McAllen’s downtown business district.

In 1981 Glen and a group of McAllen business leaders opened Texas State Bank in McAllen. Soon Harlingen State Bank and Texas State Bank grew into a state-wide banking organization led by Glen, with his wife Rita K. by his side. He was a member of the Board of Directors of both banks at that time. These banks merged in 1983 under a holding company – Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc. (TRBS). In the meantime, First City Bancorporation of Texas acquired McAllen State Bank in 1982, electing Glen as Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer in 1983. He was also elected to the Board of Directors of First City Bancorporation, Inc., in Houston. In 1985 he resigned from his positions with First City and McAllen State Bank and moved to lead TRBS.

Mid-Valley Bank in Weslaco was acquired in 1991 by TRBS, and a 13-lane motor bank at Texas State Bank in McAllen opened, along with the bank’s own computer center. In 1992 the banks in McAllen, Harlingen, and Weslaco merged and consolidated into Texas State Bank. In McAllen, TRBS purchased Kerria Plaza in 1993 to house the headquarters of the holding company. Two more branches opened: at Twenty-third Street and Nolana Avenue and at South Jackson Avenue and Expressway 83.

One of the high points of Glen’s banking career took place on March 15, 1994. He took TRBS public, selling its stock in the financial center of the country – the NASDAQ stock exchange. He and Rita K. rang the bell that opened the stock exchange that day at NASDAQ’s location in Times Square, New York City. TRBS, the holding company’s stock symbol rolled across the NASDAQ marquee for the first time, and in one day the entire issue sold out.

Glen and Rita K. traveled around the country, telling major stock brokerage firms about Texas State Bank, the Rio Grande Valley, and Texas. Glen often talked about the investment bankers who helped take TRBS public and continued to help him promote Texas State Bank and the Rio Grande Valley to investment firms nationwide, including Hill Feinberg, then Chairman and CEO of FirstSouthwest Securities, now Hilltop Securities, Inc., in Dallas,and Roger Powell of Alex Brown and Sons in Baltimore.

One of their friends, Charles V. “Chick” Lord,also with Alex Brown and Sons was a frequent visitor to the Valley. Glen and Rita K. remembered that he always stopped by and visited with Dolia Gonzalez, mother of the Valley’s Vietnam war hero and U.S. and Texas Medal of Honor recipient – Marine Sergeant Alfredo “Freddy”Gonzalez. Chick credited Sergeant Gonzalez for saving his life in Vietnam.

From 1995 to 1998 other banks were acquired with more locations in Rio Grande City, Roma, Mission, Hidalgo, Brownsville, Raymondville, and Harlingen. Another highlight of the 1990s was the opening of the 11-story Texas State Bank tower in 1998, Glen’s second bank tower project impacting McAllen’s skyline.

Into the year 2000 Glen and Rita K. crisscrossed the country educating investors about the growth that the region was experiencing. However, on September 11, 2001, like New York City and the entire country, they were devastated by the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Glen and Rita K. lost many friends in the disaster – investment bankers, brokers, and investors that had become close.

Many New York and East Coast colleagues visited them in the Valley to see something positive – the upward economic growth in the Rio Grande Valley.

From 2002 into 2006, Glen led the TRBS expansion throughout the state of Texas with new locations in Houston (Riverway and Main-Downtown), Eagle Pass, Sugar Land, and expansion of the data center to Grapevine. The holding company also acquired Corpus Christi Bancshares, Southeast Texas Bancshares, Port Arthur Abstract and Title, Valley Mortgage Company in McAllen, and Mercantile Bank & Trust in Dallas. New branches opened in Edinburg, San Juan, Silsbee, Lumberton, Weslaco, The Woodlands, and Houston-Montrose. By 2006 there were five locations in Dallas and five locations in Houston. Texas Regional Bancshares, Inc. had grown from its humble beginnings of a few assets to a $7 billion banking organization with 73 locations throughout Texas, and the common stock on NASDAQ enjoyed success.

Glen was contacted by a representative of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (BBVA), a multinational banking group based in Spain. He had visited with them on previous occasions where they expressed an interest in purchasing the bank, but this time they proposed buying TRBS, Inc. and its subsidiary Texas State Bank for cash.

The organization was sold to BBVA on November 6, 2006, for $2,165,000,000 cash. This was reported to be the largest cash transaction ever made for a bank in Texas. Morris Atlas, long-time friend of Glen and director of TRBS, Inc., and Texas State Bank, said that Glen Roney’s bank sale made more millionaires in the Valley than any other investment in history. Stockholders from around the nation, as well as bank employees, officers, and directors who were also stockholders, benefited from the bank sale.

BBVA went on to buy Compass Bancshares, Inc., and all of the Texas State Bank branches merged into BBVA Compass Bancshares, Inc. Glen served as a director for BBVA Compass for 10 years. Upon resigning he was offered an office suite with Plains Capital Bank in north McAllen.

Many former customers still credit Glen for believing in them and making the loans that first kicked off their businesses. Glen was known for finding ways to make things work, searching for solutions to problems, and helping customers succeed in their businesses.

While Glen worked tirelessly to build Texas State Bank and TRBS, at the same time he was a strong supporter of public, charitable, and political organizations. Besides being a paper delivery boy to Governor Jester, his work with the State of Texas and its governors started again through a close business relationship with Governor John Connally.

He was appointed by Governor Dolph Briscoe and re-appointed by Governors Bill Clements and Mark White to the Texas Water Development Board. He served on the water board for 14 years and was Chairman of the Texas Water Resources Finance Authority for 3 years.

Glen was a member of the Texas Research League, the Texas Political Action Committee, and director of the Texas Bankers Association. He also served as co-chairman of the Governor’s Task Force Committee on Border Economic Development in 1986 under Governor Mark White.

Governor Ann Richards appointed Glen as a founding member of South Texas College Board of Trustees in 1993. It opened with 1,000 students, and today it enrolls over 34,000. For 12 years he served in such positions as Chairman, Vice Chairman, Secretary, Chairman of the Finance, Resource and Facility Committees.

Under Governors George W. Bush and Rick Perry, he served on the Governor’s Business Council.

In 1973 he worked closely with McAllen city leaders and other colleagues to obtain approval of the McAllen Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ). He gave President George H.W. Bush, Sr., then a U.S. Congressman, credit for helping them gain approval. It was the first inland non-seaport Foreign Trade Zone in the United States. Today it consists of over 775 acres, and more than 400 companies are located in the FTZ, representing 42 countries across the globe.

Joe Kilgore, Glen’s close friend, business associate, and a former U. S. Congressman for South Texas, invited him to join the Scott & White board. He had worked with Glen on the TRBS and Texas State Bank boards. Glen faithfully served in various capacities at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, for 33 years. In January 1984, Glen was elected to the Scott, Sherwood and Brindley Foundation Board of Trustees at Scott & White. In January 2010, he was elected as Vice Chairman of the Scott & White Healthcare Board, where he served with Drayton McClane, Chairman.

In October 2013, Glen and Rita K. participated in the opening of the Roney Bone and Joint Institute, a 75,000-square-foot medical facility on the Temple campus. In November 2013, he was elected as Chairman of the Scott & White Healthcare Board and served for three years (2013-2016). During his tenure, he served as Chairman of the Staff Compensation Committee, Governance Committee, and Finance Committee. He also was a member of the following committees: Development/Endowment, Investment, Audit and Insurance, Executive, Scott and White Assurance LTD, Quality and Safety, and the Foundation Board.

As a leader in South Texas, Glen served many organizations for a combined 42 years, from1975 through 2017.  He was a Director of the South Texas Higher Education Authority Board (STHEA) and the Council of South Texas Economic Progress (COSTEP).

He and other community leaders opened Chapel by the Sea, a Christian fellowship at South Padre Island. They oversaw the planning and construction of the chapel, and the first service was held Easter Sunday, April 6, 1980. Glen and Rita K. continued to serve on the board of directors.

Glen was a founding member of the Vannie E. Cook, Jr. Cancer Foundation in McAllen, established in 1977. It was named for Glen’s friend and colleague Vannie E. Cook, Jr. He served for 40 years as an executive board member and treasurer. The Vannie E. Cook Jr. Children’s Cancer and Hematology Clinic, and the City of McAllen recognized Glen for his service by proclaiming May 16, 2017, as Glen E. Roney Day.

From 1989 through 1993, he served on the Board of Directors of McAllen Affordable Homes. He was board president from 1991 to 1993.

Glen realized the importance of helping young people succeed through education. He joined the Board of Directors of the South Texas Academic Rising Scholars (STARS) Scholarship Fund, founded by his friend and business leader, Joe LaMantia, Jr. and the LaMantia family. STARS awarded scholarships to students in South Texas to help them attend college.

Glen and Rita K. were elected to the Board of Governors of the McAllen Boys and Girls Club, where they continued to serve. In 2004, they were honored when the club built the Glen E. and Rita K. Roney Center.

In 2008 Glen was named a Texas Business Legend and inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame. He received additional awards, including: 1990 Hidalgo Chamber of Commerce Border Texan of the Year, 1991 University of Texas-Pan American Founder’s Day Honoree, 1992 Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen, 1994 American Heart Association Heart of Gold, 1997 South Texas Symphony Cultural Leader of the Year, 2001 McAllen Chamber of Commerce Man of the Year, 2001 Masonic Community Builders, 2003 Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty for the Southwest Region, 2007 Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver, 2008 Leadership McAllen award, and the 2015 McAllen Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award.

Over the years Glen and Rita K. enjoyed ranching both in South Texas and in the Texas Hill Country, raising cattle and exotic animals. They especially loved having friends to the ranch, watching the beauty of the roaming wildlife, and the peacefulness of being outdoors. He saw it as a wonderful place to reflect on life and God’s blessings. He and Rita K. cherished those quiet moments at the ranch.

Glen E. Roney will always be remembered as a leader in the generation that made the Rio Grande Valley great. Glen passed away November 10, 2018, from pneumonia. Interment was at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin, Texas with the family attending.

A memorial service will be held at First Methodist Church of McAllen, 4200 N. McColl Road at 2 p.m. on Friday, November 16.

He is survived by his loving wife of 39 years, Rita K. Robertson Roney. He is survived by his three children, Elaine Roney Bready (Doug), Stephen Roney (Patricia), Mark Voss (Brandy), by four grandsons and six great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brother, Ernie L. Roney (Louise), along with nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clyde and Jewell Roney. Pallbearers are Ernie Roney, Doug Bready, Stephen Roney, Mark Voss, Colin Bready, Jason Bready, Dillon Thomison, Glendon Voss, Westly Keating, Hill Feinberg and Drayton McLane. Honorary pallbearers are Frank Boggus, Bill Davis, David Embry, Dr. Al Knight, Joe LaMantia, Jr., Dr. Ken Landrum, John Martin, Bill Moschel, David Rogers, Joaquin Salinas, Paul Schwab, Jim Spence and Paul Veale, Jr.

In lieu of flowers, the Roney family suggests that memorial contributions may be sent to the McAllen Boys and Girls Club of McAllen-Glen E. and Rita K. Roney Center Foundation, P. O. Box 5910, McAllen, TX 78502, or the Baylor Scott & White Roney Bone and Joint Institute, P. O. Box 5910, McAllen, TX 78502.