William “Bill” Allen Jr,, a key player in the evolution of South Florida banking and civic affairs, died Tuesday morning of leukemia.
Allen, 79, was surrounded by friends, family and his two beloved golden retrievers, Mason and Dixon.
Bill Allen was a top executive at Southeast Bank, which started out as First National Bank of Miami, and also spent time at Bank of America and Northern Trust. His first salary at First National in 1962: $3,250 a year, $5 more a week than a rival bank.
Joe Robbie, the founding owner of the Miami Dolphins, was one of Allen’s early customers. Allen helped Robbie with a financial package that led to the Dolphins’ owner buying out partners.
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“He had the personality to become one of the family,” said former Dolphins coach Don Shula for a 2007 profile of Allen in the Miami Herald. “He was invited to go on the trips, and I would consider him part of the team.”
Allen was born in New York and followed his parents to South Florida. His father became a banker in Fort Lauderdale.
Out of his banker office, Allen had a presence in civic affairs. His next door neighbor in Miami was Alvah Chapman, the chairman of newspaper chain Knight Ridder, which owned the Miami herald at the time, and a leader of Miami’s power structure.
After leaving Southeast Bank in 1981, Allen went on to work at other financial institutions. He announced his retirement in 1981, but soon rejoined the banking world at Northern Trust.
This report will be updated as more information becomes available.