Reese Building namesake banking titan, staunch University supporter

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Around Charlotte, Addison Hardcastle Reese is probably better known as a titan of the banking industry rather than for his passionate commitment to UNC Charlotte.

Born in Baltimore County, Md., on Dec.28, 1908, Reese attended Johns Hopkins University but left after his junior year to begin his lifelong career in banking. He worked as a clerk, a senior national bank examiner and a bank vice president all before serving in the U.S. Air Force during World War II.

Reese returned to banking after the war and was recruited to Charlotte in 1951 as executive vice president of American Trust Company. He was promoted to president in 1954 and organized a series of mergers that became the North Carolina National Bank, which has since evolved into the Bank of America. He also served on the board of the Federal Reserve and as a director of the International Monetary Conference.

Named to the Board of Advisors of the Charlotte Community College System in 1957, Reese was later elected to the college’s Board of Trustees. He chaired the Charlotte College Site Committee and worked with University founder Bonnie Cone and Pete McKnight to choose UNC Charlotte’s current location.

In 1963, Reese was appointed vice chair of the Charlotte College Board of Trustees and took over as chair following the death of J. Murrey Atkins. He spent a year as a member of the North Carolina Legislative Study Commission on Student Financial Aid and was a member of the UNC Charlotte Foundation.

In 1968, UNC Charlotte awarded its first honorary degrees. One went to Reese and the other went to Frank Porter Graham, former University of North Carolina president, U.S. senator and United Nations mediator.

Reese’s award recognized him as “a man of vision, who foresaw a university of excellence, where those of lesser vision saw only a struggling community college.”

The North Carolina Citizens Committee presented Reese with the 1974 Distinguished Citizenship Award. Reese also served on the boards of trustees for both the University of North Carolina and UNC Charlotte, serving as the chair of the latter from 1972 until his death in 1977.

The Reese Administration Building, completed in 1982, is named in his honor.

Atkins Library Special Collections contributed to this article.