Former FDIC Chairman Bill Seidman Dies at 88

Bill Seidman
Bill Seidman

Former FDIC Chairman and CNBC Chief Commentator L. William "Bill" Seidman died Wednesday in Albuquerque, N.M., after a brief illness. He was 88.

"Our beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather devoted himself to education, to the business community, to the service of his country, and most of all to his family and friends," his family said in a prepared statement. "He was an extraordinarily gifted and generous man whose wit and wisdom touched all who knew him. For our family, the loss is immeasurable."

Mr. Seidman was born April, 29, 1921, in Grand Rapids, Mich. He received his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College, his LLB from Harvard University and his MBA from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.

During World War II, Mr. Seidman served in the U.S. Navy as a communications officer on a destroyer and received the Bronze Star while serving in the invasion of the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

He later served in the White House as President Gerald R. Ford's Assistant for Economic Affairs from 1974 to 1977. He also served with President Ronald Reagan as co-chair of the White House Conference on Productivity in 1983 and 1984.

From 1985 to 1991, Mr. Seidman served as the fourteenth chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. On Wednesday, current FDIC Chairman Sheila C. Bair said, “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Bill Seidman. Bill was a dynamic and independent leader, presiding over a similarly challenging period in the FDIC’s history with courageous leadership and sharp intellect.

"He has always maintained the respect and affection of FDIC employees. His plain-speaking and straightforward approach made him a gifted communicator. I will miss his wisdom and insight and mourn the loss of a faithful public servant. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Under President George H.W. Bush, Seidman was tapped to head up the newly created federal agency called the Resolution Trust Corp. (RTC), which landed the mammoth task of cleaning up the S&L mess.

While at the RTC, he supervised the creation of an agency of 8,000 employees handling more than $400 billion in assets from failed S&Ls. The experience led to his 1993 book "Full Faith and Credit" (Random House). He also was the author of "Productivity—The American Advantage" with Steven L. Shancke, (Simon & Schuster, 1989).

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan reflected Wednesday on the similarities in his and Mr. Seidman's career.

"I am deeply saddened by Bill Seidman's passing," Greenspan said. "We shared innumerable financial crises, small and large. His wisdom will be missed."

Mr. Seidman made literally hundreds of appearances on CNBC over the years, weighing in on some of the biggest business stories of the last two decades. In October 2008 he penned his first blog. Sitting at a desk in the CNBC studios, he put pen to paper and wrote "How Good a Landlord Will Treasury Be?"

(See a PDF of the original handwritten document.)

Among many other accomplishments, Mr. Seidman was also managing partner of Seidman & Seidman Certified Public Accountants (now BDO Seidman), New York, from 1968 to 1974. Under his stewardship, the firm expanded from a small family enterprise to become a national public accounting firm.

Also of note, Mr. Seidman was an avid cyclist, biking to work almost daily. He said he did it because he loved to be around young people.

At his death, Mr. Seidman was a consultant to RWB Capital Management. He formerly served as a consultant to the World Bank, Deposit Corporation of Japan, Morgan Stanley (Asia), Ernst & Young, Nippon Credit Bank, Freddie Mac, and the Capital Group. He also was a member of the board of directors of InteliData, Fiserv, Clark/Bardes,, GMAC Mortgage, and LML Systems.

He is survived by his wife Sally, six children, numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. A private family service will be held, and an announcement regarding a memorial service will be made at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that memorials be made to the F.E. Seidman School of Business at Grand Valley State University or the charity of your choice.

Read CNBC's remembrances of Mr. Seidman, and share your own