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Changes At the Banking Summit

Business Profile

There's a new chairman in town, and he's not a Burke or a Herbert.

At a meeting in February, the Board of Directors of Burke and Herbert Bank and Trust Company made two changes at the top of the institution's hierarchy. Mount Vernon residents Charles K. Collum, Jr., was named chairman of the Board and E. Hunt Burke was promoted to president. Previously, Collum was president and Burke served as senior executive vice president.

David M. Burke, who has served as chairman since 1998, will now function as chairman emeritus, according to Collum. "He is going to be coming in three days a week to serve his customers but will be retiring from day-to-day operations," he explained.

Collum became the fifth chairman of the bank and only the second non-Burke to serve in that position over its 150 year history. One of the longest serving non-Burke chairman was Dr. Carson Lee Fifer. He held the position from 1964 to 1991.

The position did not exist at B&H before 1933 when the federal government required the bank to incorporate in order to reopen after President Roosevelt closed all banks to stop a rush on currency as a result of the Great Depression. Prior to that, B&H had been operated as a partnership for 81 years with no legalistic documentation, only a handshake.

However, it has been one of Virginia's most successful banks since it was founded in 1852 by John Woolfolk Burke and Arthur Herbert. When they became the founders of Alexandria's third bank, they were ages 27 and 23, respectively. Of the three, only B&H survives today.

COLLUM JOINED Burke and Herbert the day after Labor Day in 1971, after serving as a branch manager for the now defunct Alexandria National Bank where he began his banking career right out of high school. "I liked banking so much I never did go on to college," he revealed.

Hired by David Burke, Collum served as cashier and assistant vice president, prior to becoming president in 1999. He was the first non-Burke to be a truly functioning president. Ralph Bogle served in the position following the death of C.S.Taylor Burke, Sr., in 1951 only because it was determined that C.S.Taylor Burke, Jr., at age 30 was too young to assume the post.

When he did take over, Taylor, Jr., first as president, then as Chairman of the Board, presided over a 52-year tenure that saw the bank's assets balloon from $10 million to more than $800 million.

Hunt Burke began his official affiliation with B&H in January 1980. Unofficially, he has been actively involved in one capacity or another since age 13.

"Now I get to take all the phone calls from people who say they want to speak to the president," Burke said. "But, I intend to stay in the office I have. We like it there," referring to his executive secretary Betty Crump. Burke will also serve as the bank's chief operating officer.

Collum, who also has a dual role as chief executive officer, plans to remain in his present office as well which is directly over Burke's. "That way we can still communicate by either pounding on the floor or the ceiling," he clarified.

"We have a really good operating team at this bank. That's why we will continue to conduct business as usual," Collum said. "The titles may change but the suspects remain the same," Burke added.