Caltech Trustee Richard M. Rosenberg Dies (1930–2023)
Richard Rosenberg, retired chairman and chief executive officer of Bank of America, and a life member of the Caltech community, passed away on March 3, 2023. He was 92 years old.
Rosenberg was first appointed to the Caltech Board of Trustees in 1989. While he was an active member of the board, he served as chair of the Business and Finance Committee and the Investment Committee. He was previously a member of the Executive Committee, the Executive Compensation Committee, and the Nominating Committee.
"Dick contributed prudent leadership to the board, helping to manage Caltech's endowment and overseeing business and financial affairs," says Caltech Board of Trustees chair David W. Thompson (MS '78). "He also stressed the importance of inclusion and diversity, and integrated those essential values into his decision-making."
"It was impossible to meet with Dick and not be uplifted," says Caltech president Thomas Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. "His buoyant and generous spirit, emphasis on quality, and devotion to community powerfully impacted Caltech and the broader world."
Rosenberg was born on April 21, 1930, in Fall River, Massachusetts. The country was in the midst of the Great Depression, and his parents struggled to make a living. With the arrival of World War II, his father went to work in the shipyards of New York City while his mother stayed in Fall River as a salesclerk for local dress shops.
To earn money, Rosenberg worked summers as a waiter for resorts in the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and after his first year at college, he found a job writing news releases for the Massachusetts Heart Association. He paid his way through college and earned a BS degree from Suffolk University in Boston in 1952.
Rosenberg joined the U.S. Navy after graduation. He was trained as an officer and served in Korea and Vietnam. He used the GI bill to finance his business education, earning his MBA in 1962 from San Francisco's Golden Gate University. He also earned his JD in 1966 from Golden Gate University.
While completing his law degree, Rosenberg began working for Wells Fargo Bank. He would spend 22 years there, becoming the organization's youngest vice president and also serving as director. He later went on to become president and chief operating officer of Seattle First National Bank and Seafirst Corporation before joining Bank of America.
During his tenure as chairman and chief executive officer of Bank of America, Rosenberg significantly strengthened the firm's retail franchise and corporate operations. The company became the second largest bank in the United States, achieving record earnings, stock price, and dividend levels, and establishing itself as a leader in community reinvestment programs. He retired in 1996.
"Dick was an extraordinary person—a most effective leader of the Bank of America, but perhaps, more importantly, a humanist who cared deeply about people and the world," says Walter L. Weisman, life member of the Caltech community. "His support for Caltech over decades and what the school could do for humanity reflected his attitudes and determination. He will be sorely missed."
Rosenberg was a retired commander in the U.S. Naval Reserve; a member of the California Bar Association; a past president of the Bankers Roundtable, the Bank Marketing Association, and the Federal Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve System; and a past chairman of MasterCard International and the United Way of the Bay Area.
He was a member of the boards of directors of the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, the San Francisco Symphony, and the Naval War College Foundation. He also served as chair of the Executive Council and the Foundation of the UC San Francisco Medical Center; chair of ABX Air; and as a director of Airborne Express, SBC Communications, UCSF Stanford Health Care, Chronicle Publishing Company, Northrop Grumman Corporation, Health Care Property Inc., and Pacific Life Insurance Company.
He was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was also named to the Bay Area Business Hall of Fame and received the Horatio Alger Award.
Rosenberg is survived by his wife of 66 years, Barbara Rosenberg, sons W. Michael Rosenberg and Peter Rosenberg, and five grandsons.