Career banker Bob Coords had a way of defusing tense business meetings and lunches.
There was the time, former colleague Ramiro Ortiz recalls, when the two SunTrust Banks executives met over lunch in Miami with the president of a holding company. “We were struggling with the holding company with our budget. They wanted more than we were willing to give,” said Ortiz, now CEO of HistoryMiami.
Coords arranged to have lunch served: dry toast and water.
“He said that was all we could afford to do. He had a good sense of humor,” Ortiz said. “And people skills. People worked for him because they wanted to, not because they had to.”
Coords, who served as corporate executive vice president of SunTrust Banks and president and chief operating officer of Flagship Bank before its 1983 merger with SunBank, died June 29 at age 71.
Ortiz and Coords worked together for about 20 years, including on that merger.
“That was the largest merger in the country at that time,” he said. “He was an incredible leader, and he was one of those guys where no job was too small to be recognized. If the small things got done, the large things would be taken care of.”
Of course, Coords — who last served as the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Coconut Grove Bank and Coconut Grove Bankshares for four years until July 2013 — didn’t think small.
“He’s never done anything less than full speed,” his son Hunter Coords said. “If he can be a swimmer, he’ll be an All-American swimmer. If he’s a boater, he’ll get his captain’s license. Everything was that way. When it came time to help the United Way campaign he said, ‘Well, yes. We’ll exceed it by 20 percent.’ ”
His banking career began in 1970 at Wachovia Bank in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, after his 1966 graduation from Wake Forest University. After graduation, he served four years as an Army captain in Vietnam, Germany and Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.
Coords was also involved in Miami’s civic affairs as a past president of the board of trustees of Florida International University, a member of the Orange Bowl Committee, chairman of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce, board member of United Way of Dade County and a 1992 United Way campaign team leader.
“He has never flagged in his optimism about what his community can do,” said children’s advocate and former Miami Herald publisher David Lawrence in a 1992 Herald story.
“He was a great banker and he was a great community leader. He was always there for everyone who needed him, and we’re grateful,” said retired SunTrust Bank vice chairman Ted Hoepner. The two worked together for 22 years.
Coords grew up amid the mountains and lakes of Westfield, New Jersey. His sister Joan Kipe chuckles when she remembers their romps as children.
“I was the oldest, and we beat each other up, but whenever anybody else was on the attack we looked after each other. He was always there for me. All my life he’s been that for us. He was always a lot of fun.”
His son, a banking services director for First Tennessee Bank in Winston-Salem, agrees.
“For me to have access to a CEO for advice and counsel was really special in a professional capacity. But personally, he was fun,” Hunter Coords said. “We talked banking and topics the way other fathers and sons talk baseball but, that said, he was an avid boater. He really enjoyed Biscayne Bay and being on the water and taking his grandkids on the boat.”
To the grandchildren, he was “Bobby.” “He wanted a more youthful approach to the grandfather thing,” his son said.
And that sense of humor, mixed with work ethic, seeped into the father-son relationship.
“For as long as I’ve known him, and as long as he’s had a yard, he’s mowed his own grass,” Hunter Coords said. “Funny. There are lots of lessons we learned growing up, and it was sort of a classroom for life lessons for his sons. Hard work. Sweat. That sort of thing and what it teaches you. Both of us, to this day, are persnickety about the yard.”
Coords is survived by his sons Hunter and Graham, sisters Joan Kipe and Bonnie Adler, brother Dwight Allen Coords, five grandchildren and partner Debbie Meguiar. Services were held.