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RBC mourns loss of former CEO & Chairman


RBC today marked the passing of Rowland Cardwell Frazee, who passed away on July 29. Mr. Frazee was chairman and CEO of Royal Bank of Canada from 1980 to 1986.

“Rowland Frazee presided over RBC during one of the more challenging periods of our history, and his leadership was invaluable to our company, our industry and our country,” said Gordon M. Nixon, RBC’s president and CEO. “I would like to extend the sincere condolences of all employees and directors, past and present, to his family and recognize Rowland’s outstanding contribution during his long career with the bank.”

Mr. Frazee led RBC during the turbulent 1980s -- which saw, among other things, the beginning of the globalization of business, the collapse of the four pillars of Canadian finance, plunging energy prices, and soaring interest rates. Known as the banker with a social conscience, Mr. Frazee was a champion of corporate philanthropy and community investment, and was responsible for creating RBC’s leading-edge focus on corporate social responsibility. He also played a statesman’s role for the Canadian banking industry, and made concern for the public interest one of the pillars of his management philosophy.

Born in Halifax in 1921, Mr. Frazee spent his entire business career with RBC. He first joined in 1939, working at the branch in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, where his father was the manager. He took a leave of absence during the Second World War to serve his country with the Carlton and York Regiment, First Canadian Infantry Division, with whom he participated in the July 1943 allied landings in Sicily. Wounded three times, Mr. Frazee distinguished himself in the Italian Campaign and in northwest Europe, retiring in 1945 with the rank of Major. After the war, Mr. Frazee studied at Dalhousie University in Halifax where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1948, at which time he returned to the bank.

During his long and varied career at RBC, Rowland Frazee served in a number of increasingly more senior positions, and was eventually named president in 1977, chief executive officer in 1979, and assumed the role of chairman and chief executive officer in 1980. Mr. Frazee retired from the bank in 1986, but remained a member of the board of directors until 1992. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1991, and was inducted into the New Brunswick Business Hall of Fame in 2001.


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