Robert G. Wilmers

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Robert G. Wilmers
Robert George Wilmers

(1934-04-20)April 20, 1934
New York, U.S.
DiedDecember 17, 2017(2017-12-17) (aged 83)
New York City, U.S.
EducationPhillips Exeter Academy
Alma materHarvard College
Net worthUS$1.0 billion (January 2017)[1]
TitleChairman and CEO, M&T Bank
Spouse(s)Elisabeth Wilmers
Parent(s)Charles Wilmers
Cecilia Wilmers

Robert George "Bob" Wilmers (April 20, 1934 – December 16, 2017) was an American billionaire banker.[2][3] He was the chairman and CEO of M&T Bank from 1983 until his death in 2017, except for an 18 month break in 2005 - 2006.[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

Robert George Wilmers was born in New York[5] on April 20, 1934 as one of three children to Charles Wilmers, an executive with the Belgium utility holding company, Sofina, who would eventually become its president, and his wife Cecilia. He grew up in New York City and Belgium.[6] His sister Mary-Kay Wilmers is the editor of the London Review of Books, the well-known literary journal.

He graduated from the Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard College (1956),[7] and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration.[2]


He started his career at Bankers Trust Co. in 1962,[7][2] served in New York City government under mayor John Lindsay as a financial official in the 1960s,[7] then went on to work at Morgan Guaranty Trust Company.

He served as chairman and CEO of M&T Bank[2][3] and its subsidiary, Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company (M&T Bank) since 1983.[2]

In 1992, the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Management named Wilmers Niagara Frontier Executive of the Year. In 1991, the Greater Buffalo Chamber of Commerce named him Western New Yorker of the Year. He received honorary degrees from Canisius College (1988), Niagara University (1991) and the State University of New York at Buffalo (2004). He was cited by The Buffalo News in 1987 and 1994 as a Citizen of the Year. Wilmers retired as CEO in 2005 but returned 18 months later after his successor, Robert Sadler, stepped down from the post[7] and later received the 2005 American Banker Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2008, Wilmers was awarded Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by the President of France. In December 2011, he was named Banker of the Year by American Banker.[8]

He purchased Chateau Haut-Bailly, a winery in Bordeaux, France, in 1998.[9]

He served as chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation from 2008 to 2009, chairman of the New York State Bankers Association in 2002 and as a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York from 1993 to 1998.[citation needed]

In 2011, he was named "banker of the year" by American Banker.[10][11]

In January 2017, the rising value of bank stocks meant that Wilmers had become a billionaire.[1]

Personal life and death[edit]

His widow Elisabeth Wilmers is French, and they owned Château Haut-Bailly from 1998 until his death, as well as the nearby property Château Le Pape from 2012 onwards.[12]

Wilmers died at his home in New York City on December 16, 2017.[13][14] The cause of death was a heart attack while recovering from a recent surgery.[9]


  1. ^ a b Tom Metcalf (2017-01-19). "The Bank Rally Mints a New Billionaire Banker". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Stocks. "Stocks - Bloomberg". Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  3. ^ a b c [1]
  4. ^ Joe Nocera, The Good Banker, The New York Times, May 30, 2011
  5. ^ McLannahan, Ben (17 December 2017). "Longest serving US bank chief and industry figure dies". Financial Times.
  6. ^ "Robert Wilmers Children | All banking is local - tribunedigital-baltimoresun". 2002-11-17. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  7. ^ a b c d Peters, Andy (17 December 2017). "Robert Wilmers, longtime M&T chairman and CEO, dies at 83". American Banker.
  8. ^ Matthew Monks, A Throwback Approach Keeps Wilmers, M&T on Top, American Banker, November 30, 2011
  9. ^ a b Frank, Mitch (March 2018). "Bob Wilmers, Banker and Chateau Haut-Bailly Owner". Wine Spectator: 16.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Robert G. Wilmers, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer - M&T Bank Newsroom". Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  12. ^ "aujourdhui | Château Haut Bailly". 1998-07-30. Retrieved 2017-01-28.
  13. ^ "M&T Bank Chairman Bob Wilmers dies". 17 December 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  14. ^ "Eagle co-owner Bob Wilmers dies; was CEO and chairman of M&T Bank". Retrieved 17 December 2017.