H. Grant Hathaway, who helped build Equitable Bancorporation into one of the city's most successful banking companies, said yesterday that he will retire this month as vice chairman of MNC Financial Inc., the company that bought
Equitable in 1989.
Mr. Hathaway, 65, also will retire as chairman of MNC's largest subsidiary, Maryland National Bank. He will continue to serve as a director of MNC and American Security Bank, another unit of MNC, and as director and chairman emeritus of Maryland National Bank.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Hathaway moved to Maryland at age 9, graduated from the St. James School in Hagerstown and attended the Johns Hopkins University before his studies were interrupted by a two-year stint in the Navy starting in 1946.
When he returned, Mr. Hathaway's first job was with the Savings Bank of Baltimore, the predecessor to the Bank of Baltimore. In 1955, he joined the Equitable Trust Co. He became president of JTC the bank in 1973, president of the parent Equitable Bancorporation two years later and chairman and CEO of the holding company in 1979.
Mr. Hathaway led Equitable's growth through the 1980s until, as the state's third-largest banking company, it attracted a
successful takeover bid from MNC.
After the merger in 1989, Mr. Hathaway became vice chairman of MNC and chairman of Maryland National.
"He's as important as anybody in returning this company to its present shape," said MNC Chairman Alfred Lerner, who was the largest shareholder in Equitable before the merger. "He was the glue that held this company together when we were slugging it out."
It was Mr. Hathaway's "calmness under stress," that struck Frank P. Bramble Sr., president and chief executive officer of MNC. "He is very able to remain calm and objective during very high-stress situations," he said.
Mr. Hathaway led the campaign for Mr. Bramble to be appointed CEO last year.
"For me, it would be very easy to say maybe if we had it to do over again," things would have gone differently regarding the MNC takeover, Mr. Hathaway said.
"But I'm not 100 percent sure we would have done anything major in a different way.
"If Equitable had remained Equitable, I think we would have suffered some of the same hardships," although not as severely as MNC, he said.
"The last two, two and a half years have been anything but boring," Mr. Hathaway said yesterday. "I would probably look forward to a little boredom for a while."
That might not be on the agenda, though. Mr. Hathaway is chairman of the board of the Garrison Forest School, chairman of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore and chairman of the Community Development Finance Corp., a $31 million fund for low-income housing, and chairman of the Baltimore County Economic Development Commission.
A past president of the Maryland Bankers Association and past member of the Greater Baltimore Committee, Mr. Hathaway led the region's United Way campaigns for several years. He also is vice chairman of the Kennedy-Krieger Institute, and is slated to chair the organization next year.
With six children, four grandchildren, and his civic activities, Mr. Hathaway said he hopes "to sort of continue doing all the things I'm doing."