Southside Bank Founder Hartley Remembered for His Philanthropy and Dedication to the Banking Industry

B.G. “Bill” Hartley, former chief executive officer of Tyler-based Southside Bank, died on May 28 at age 88. Along with Murph Wilson, he founded Southside Bancshares in 1960 and served as its CEO for more than 50 years until his retirement in 2014. He served as chairman emeritus of the board until his death.

Hartley began his banking career at Guaranty Bond Bank in Mt. Pleasant before being recruited to work as a bank examiner by the Texas Department of Banking. He rose to the rank of examiner in charge of the San Antonio office before returning to East Texas to open Southside Bank.

“Bill will be remembered as a strong leader, people person, community builder and highly dedicated successful banker,” Jim Perkins, chairman of Citizens 1st Bank in Tyler, told the Tyler Morning Telegraph this week. “He had great support…from his wife Billie and daughter Jane. Bill was wholly dedicated to the success of Southside Bank and thoroughly appreciated its customers and fellow employees.”

Hartley was well known in East Texas for his philanthropy and service to the community. He was director and president of the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce and a director and past president of the Texas Rose Festival. He also was a former director of several community organizations, including United Way of Tyler, Junior Achievement of Tyler, the East Texas Symphony Association and the Tyler chapter of the American Red Cross, among others.

According to the Tyler Morning Telegraph, in 2017, the first new building constructed at Tyler-based Texas College in 50 years was co-named for Hartley. He was a trustee and executive committee member of the college for 30 years. Gilmore-Hartley Hall was named for Hartley and Bishop Marshall Gilmore for their years of service and the instrumental role the two played in keeping the college open when it struggled to remain accredited in the 1990s.

“His contributions to the college were impactful during a time of need, [resulting in] epic growth to the institution and an unselfish benefit to others,” Texas College President Dwight J. Fennell told the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “Texas College will forever be grateful to the Hartley family for their…contributions to higher education.”

Hartley is survived by his wife of 59 years, Billie, and a daughter, Jane Hartley Coker. He was preceded in death by his son, Patrick Boyd Hartley.

Southside Bancshares Inc., the holding company for Southside Bank, has approximately $6.5 billion in assets. Southside Bank operates 60 branches in East, North, Central and Southeast Texas.

Published in Bankers Digest, June 4, 2018