By NATASHA SINGER
John G. McCoy, who transformed the smallest bank in Columbus, Ohio, into the national powerhouse Banc One, died Sunday at his home in New Albany, Ohio. He was 97.
His death was confirmed by his son, John B. McCoy.
Mr. McCoy was the bank’s chief executive from 1958 to 1983, during which the bank’s assets increased to $8 billion, from about $140 million.
Early on, Mr. McCoy identified growth opportunities for his bank in consumer-friendly customer service and in acquiring other banks.
“I had to sit down and figure out what kind of a bank I wanted to run,” Mr. McCoy told The New York Times in 1981. “Right away I realized that I wanted to run a Tiffany’s, not a Woolworth’s.”
In the 1950s, for example, when many people still received their salaries in cash and banks often had only one office, Mr. McCoy began building branches and had them open on weekends.
In the 1970s, because securities firms were not permitted to offer checking accounts to their money market mutual fund customers, Banc One signed an agreement with Merrill Lynch in which the bank offered checking accounts to 300,000 Merrill customers.
Banc One was also an early adopter of services like drive-through banking, A.T.M.’s, credit cards and debit cards.
But being an early adopter didn’t always pan out. Before the era of online banking, for example, Banc One tested in-home banking via set-top boxes connected to televisions. But customers weren’t ready for such technology.
Banc One also invested in information technology research, earning a reputation as a leader in data processing. By the 1980s, the bank was processing credit card transactions for dozens of other banks.
But Mr. McCoy had conservative lending policies, courting smaller companies instead of the country’s biggest corporations.
“He used to say ‘I’d rather make a thousand loans for $1,000 than one loan for $1 million,’ ” his son recalled, “because no matter how good you are, you are always going to have one loan go bad.”
In 1979, Banc One ranked first in profitability among the country’s 100 largest bank holding companies.
For Mr. McCoy, banking was also a family business.
He was the second of three McCoys to lead the bank, originally called the City National Bank and Trust. The third was his son, who took over in 1983, serving as its chief executive until 1999.
John G. McCoy was born in Marietta, Ohio, on Jan. 30, 1913, the oldest of five children of John H. and Florence McCoy.
His father was an oilman and banker who moved the family to Columbus in 1930s after the governor of Ohio asked him to supervise the closing of banks that had failed during the Depression. In 1933, his father became president of City National Bank and Trust.
John G. McCoy attended Marietta College in Ohio. He also graduated from the Stanford Graduate School of Business with a master’s degree in business administration.
Mr. McCoy joined City National in 1937. He married his wife, Jeanne Bonnet, in 1941. She died in 2006.
Besides his son, of Columbus, Mr. McCoy is survived by a daughter, Virginia McCoy of Kansas City, Mo.; three grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
In 1958, after his father died, Mr. McCoy became president of City National Bank. He changed the name when he created a bank holding company that became known in 1979 as the Banc One Corporation. But the bank’s branches, like Bank One Columbus, used a “k” in the name.
A 1991 article in The New York Times described Banc One as the best-run bank among regional powerhouses and “perhaps the best bank in America.”
During Mr. McCoy’s son’s tenure, Banc One became one of the country’s largest banks, when it purchased First Chicago Bank for $21 billion. After the merger, the bank moved its headquarters to Chicago. John B. McCoy resigned in 1999 after the bank had earnings shortfalls. The board hired Jamie Dimon as chief executive in 2000.
JPMorgan Chase bought Banc One in 2004. Chase later changed the name of its two-million-square-foot corporate offices in Columbus to the McCoy Center.