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June 11, 1987|JOHN M. BRODER

Ronald E. Rhody, who ran BankAmerica's press and public relations operations during the San Francisco banking company's most difficult years, is leaving to form an independent communications firm.

Rhody, 55, joined BankAmerica in 1983, just as the bank was descending into a financial and management crisis from which it has yet to emerge.

The bank lost a total of $855 million in 1985 and 1986 and is expected to lose about $800 million this year.

During his tenure, the bank also lost $95 million in an embarrassing mortgage-securities scandal, battled bitterly with federal banking regulators, had a complete top management turnover and fought off a hostile takeover attempt.

Rhody said his firm will specialize in, among other things, crisis management and damage control.

"This has been a very difficult decision, and one I've been considering for some time," said Rhody. "I believe the bank is on its way back and that the time is right for me to do something I've always wanted to do."

Rhody, who holds the title of senior vice president, will remain with the bank until his successor is named. A top contender to replace him is John Keane, Rhody's principal deputy and BankAmerica's manager of news media relations.

In his new firm, Rhody will be joined by William Shepard, former Alcoa vice president for public relations and advertising.

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