Originally created 09/02/01

Augusta has lost a pillar

Services for Charles B. Presley, 78, a banking and civic leader who helped shape Augusta over the past half-century, will be Monday.

The funeral for Mr. Presley, who died Friday, will be 11 a.m. at St. John United Methodist Church with the Rev. Terry Phillips officiating. Burial will be in Westover Memorial Park.

"He was a great fellow, just a great fellow," former congressman D. Douglas Barnard Jr. said Saturday.

Mr. Barnard, who worked with Mr. Presley at the Georgia Railroad Bank, said his friend was the sort of man who found success in almost everything he tried.

"He would take on anything," Mr. Barnard said, "and then he'd do it, and do it well."

"Charlie Presley made a magnum contribution to Augusta," said William S. Morris III, the publisher of The Chronicle. "During his active working years, he was involved in most of the good things that happened in our area. He was willing to work behind the scenes and let others take the credit, so many people here will never know just how involved he really was.

"He was an exceptional businessman who did a fabulous job of building value for the shareholders of the Georgia Railroad Bank," Mr. Morris said. "He was a leader, a visionary and an extremely hard-working citizen. Augusta is a better place because Charlie Presley lived here."

Mr. Presley retired in 1988 as chairman of the board of First Union National Bank of Georgia. He also was chairman and chief executive officer of First Railroad and Banking Co. of Georgia, a bank holding company, when that company merged with First Union Corp.

Survivors include his wife, Jane Hinton Presley; two daughters, Susan Presley Norton and Nancy Presley Buckhannan; and two grandchildren.

A native of Chatsworth, Ga., Mr. Presley graduated magna cum laude from the University of Georgia in 1949. He also graduated from the Stonier Graduate School of Banking of Rutgers University and the Bank Management Program of Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.

He joined First Railroad and Banking Co. and its subsidiary, Georgia Railroad Bank & Trust Co., in 1953 and served both companies in various official positions. In 1973, he was elected chairman of the bank. In 1975, he was elected chairman and chief executive officer of First Railroad.

During his tenure with these companies, they grew in assets from $46 million in 1953 to $3.6 billion when the merger with First Union was completed, according to a published profile.

Mr. Presley also took on leadership roles in a number of civic activities.

He served three terms as chairman of the Richmond County Board of Health. He was a member of the Augusta Aviation Commission; a director and member of the Executive Committee; a treasurer of the National Science Center; and a director of the Pinnacle Club of Augusta.

He served four years as civilian aide for Georgia to the secretary of the Army, and was a founding director and chairman of the Cultural Action Plan for Augusta. He served as chairman of the President's Advisory Council of the Medical College of Georgia.

Mr. Presley was a former president of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce; Georgia Bankers Association; and the United Way of Augusta-North Augusta, where he also was campaign chairman.

He was also a former president and lieutenant governor of the Executive Committee of the University of Georgia Foundation.

Memorials can be made to the organ fund of St. John United Methodist Church, where he was a member, or to the American Cancer Society.

The family will receive friends at Platt's Funeral Home, Crawford Avenue, from 7 to 9 p.m. today.


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