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Former Company Chairman and CEO George Schloegel Leaves 60-Year Legacy of Leadership

October 6, 2023
Paul Maxwell
Paul Maxwell

George A. Schloegel, who rose from high-school-age mailroom associate to the company’s chairman and chief executive officer, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on October 6, 2023. He was 83.

Schloegel actively managed almost every facet of bank operations and amassed an extensive resume of personal and professional achievement spanning more than 60 years.

Schloegel4x6Schloegel was a driving force in Hancock Bank and Hancock Whitney growth. Following Hurricane Camille in 1969 and again after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he instigated the “Together We Build” and “Together We Rebuild” campaigns, respectively, for Gulf Coast recovery. After retiring from Hancock Bank in 2008, he served as mayor of Gulfport from 2009 to 2013 and was instrumental in the city’s and the Gulf Coast’s continued economic redevelopment after Katrina. Additionally, he was influential in assisting the successful merger of Hancock Bank and Whitney Bank in 2011 and served on the bank’s advisory board until 2017.

The former president of the Mississippi Bankers Association maintained a grueling cross-country travel pace to tout the Hancock Whitney story and the Gulf South’s economic potential to some of the nation’s top financial firms. Additionally, Schloegel remained a mentor for thousands of banking students as a distinguished faculty leader at both the Mississippi School of Banking and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University for nearly 40 years.

“We at Hancock Whitney are heartbroken to lose this extraordinary member of our company’s family and our community. I, personally, am forever grateful for his mentorship and his immeasurable contributions to helping our company and community thrive,” said President and CEO John Hairston. “George was devoted to his faith, family, bank, and community. We shall miss him immensely and are incredibly grateful for the privilege of having worked with and known him.”

Hairston added that Schloegel throughout his career and retirement inspired the highest standards of commitment and integrity among colleagues, community leaders, and government officials who recognized George Schloegel as one of the Gulf South’s most passionate and involved advocates for strategic economic growth, educational opportunity, and strong quality of life for all citizens.

More about George Schloegel
A native of Gulfport and one of seven siblings, Schloegel helped his family operate a truck and poultry farm as a young man, often pulling a wagon to sell vegetables and eggs door to door. After his father’s death, 16-year-old Schloegel went to work for then Hancock Bank in 1956, earning $1.00 an hour as a mail runner and messenger. He and his wife of 64 years, the former Peggy Harry of Gulfport, had their first date that same year at the Friendship Oak on the University of Southern Mississippi-Gulf Park campus in Long Beach, Mississippi.

He was a graduate of Louisiana State University in New Orleans (now University of New Orleans) as well as senior management tracts at Harvard Business School, Columbia University and Northwestern University.

Schloegel served as chair of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Mississippi. His 10 years of service on the Gulfport School Board witnessed the consolidation of Gulfport East and Gulfport high schools, vastly improving the school system’s efficiency, instruction, and financial stability. During that decade, he also insisted on and succeeded in preventing raises for taxpayers in the school tax millage.

Schloegel helped to secure four years of worldwide television coverage and international attention for the Mississippi Gulf Coast as four-time chair of the Miss USA Pageant hosted in Biloxi. He also served on the White House Task Force on Hunger and as a two-term president of the Harrison County Association for Retarded Citizens, a Salvation Army board member, Gulfport Little Theater board member, Gulfport Yacht Club Commodore, and St. James Catholic Church Parish Council president.

Schloegel was a past president of Mississippi Jaycees and national vice president of U.S. Jaycees.

A co-founder of Leadership Mississippi, Leadership Gulf Coast, and Coast 21 — a regional coalition of business leaders committed to well-planned economic development, he was selected as one of South Mississippi’s inaugural Top Ten Community Leaders in 2002 and to the Mississippi Business Hall of Fame in 2004. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour appointed Schloegel as chair of Barbour’s transition team.

Schloegel earned accolades as Gulfport Young Man of the Year (1965); Mississippi’s Man of the Year (1966); U.S. Jaycees Outstanding State President (1969); Pine Burr Scouting Award (1974); Mississippi Gulf Coast Carnival Association King (1988); NAACP Humanitarian Award (1994);  Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College Hall of Fame (1984); Hotel-Motel Citizen of Year (1995);  Pat Santucci Spirit of the Coast Award (1996); United States Navy Superior Public Service Medal(1996); Coast Citizen of the Year (1997); Gulfport Rotary Club William Harris Hardy Founders Award (1999); Laurel Wreath Citizen of the Year Award (1999); NASA Distinguished Service Award (2001); and the Boys & Girls Club Citizen of Year (2002).

Schloegel, a dedicated family man, was an ardent historian with exceptional knowledge of South Mississippi’s evolution from a campsite on the Old Spanish Trail to a thriving tourism and business destination. A cofounder of the Friends of the Gulf Islands National Seashore, he helped lead the construction of an exact replica of the Ship Island Lighthouse — a familiar Gulf Coast landmark that burned in 1972 and the inspiration for Hancock Bank’s corporate hallmark — according to original 1886 blueprints.

A horse enthusiast with a passion for raising Paso Finos and Peruvian Pasos, Schloegel was an avid gardener who for many years, with his wife, Peggy, grew the bedding plants that eventually graced the grounds of Hancock’s Gulf South locations.

He had four children, 10 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

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