Bill Cooper, the former chief executive officer of Wayzata-based TCF Bank, died Tuesday. He was 73 years old.
Cooper also chaired Minnesota’s Republican Party in the 1990s and backed Arne Carlson’s run for governor.
According to a TCF spokesman, Cooper had been battling cancer in recent months.
“The entire TCF family is deeply saddened by the passing of Bill Cooper and we will miss his passion for our company, its people and his strong leadership of our board of directors,” said Craig Dahl, TCF’s vice chairman and CEO.
In 1985, Cooper was appointed CEO of Twin Cities Federal, which later became TCF. He transformed the failing savings and loan into a national bank and took the company public in 1986. In 1997, TCF headquarters moved from downtown Minneapolis to its current Wayzata location. Cooper briefly retired as chairman and CEO in 2006 before returning in 2008 to lead the company until his retirement as CEO in 2015. He continued to serve as executive chairman until his death.
Vance Opperman, lead director for TCF’s Board of Directors, called Cooper “one of the most creative and innovative leaders in the banking industry.”
Opperman also noted Cooper’s work as founding chairman of the nonprofit Friends of Education.
“He came from a very modest background and never lost touch with the importance of creating opportunities for the economically disadvantaged, particularly through education,” Opperman said. “One of his greatest legacies is Friends of Education, a network of charter schools in greater Minneapolis that provide high quality education to thousands of students, many of whom come from some of the poorest communities.”
Cooper grew up in Detroit. His mother worked as a clerk for the New York Central Railroad and his father died when he was young. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1967 and during his college years he worked as a police officer in Detroit to help pay for his education. His first job was as an auditor with Touche Ross. He began his career in banking as an assistant treasurer at Michigan National Bank. Later, he went on to serve as president of Huntington Bank in Columbus, Ohio, and as president of American Savings and Loan Association.
A memorial service celebrating Cooper’s life will be at a later date. Those who wish to make a tribute to his life may direct any contributions to Friends of Education. For more info, visit improvek-12education.org.