Carl E. Hartnack, who began his career at Security Pacific Bank as a 17-year-old messenger and rose through the ranks to lead one of California's largest financial institutions, died Tuesday in Santa Barbara of Alzheimer's disease. He was 83.
Hartnack, who retired as chairman of Los Angeles-based Security Pacific National Bank in 1982, oversaw the bank's statewide and international expansion, and was an advocate for the redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles in the 1970s.
He remained chairman of the bank's international board of directors until Security Pacific was acquired by Bank of America in 1992.
As a corporate leader in Southern California, Hartnack served on the boards of numerous companies, including Hughes Aircraft Co., J.G. Boswell Co., Smith International, Whittaker Corp. and Superior Farming.
From 1985 to 1990, Hartnack served as national chairman of the University of Southern California's fund-raising organization, Campaign for USC, where he helped raise $600 million for the school. In 1980, he was named chairman of USC's board of trustees.
Born near downtown Los Angeles, Hartnack attended Belmont High School during the Great Depression. He received a scholarship to attend USC, but instead took a job to help support his family.
At age 17, he became a messenger and teller trainee at Security Pacific, eventually working his way up to branch manager and corporate executive. He was appointed president of the bank in 1969 and chairman in 1978.
To help stimulate the redevelopment of Bunker Hill in downtown Los Angeles, Hartnack agreed to move Security Pacific's corporate headquarters to the downtrodden area in 1974, the first skyscraper constructed there.
During his 48-year career, Hartnack also was honored as an early advocate for affirmative action. In 1975, he became the first banker and first Californian to head the National Alliance of Businessmen, a group dedicated to finding jobs for minority groups, Vietnam veterans, underprivileged youth and the handicapped. A year later, the Los Angeles Urban League awarded him its Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for outstanding contributions "toward genuine racial equality."
Hartnack is survived by his wife of 59 years, Roberta; three children, Richard, Robert and Gretchen, and seven grandchildren. Each of his children followed their father into banking careers. Son Richard Hartnack today is vice chairman at San Francisco-based Union Bank of California.
Private services will be held next week. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be forwarded to the James Zumberge Endowment Fund at USC.