William “Bill” Hegg, a banker with a steady hand who led Sacramento Savings Bank to be one of the most successful thrift institutions in the country, died Sept. 7 after a lengthy illness, his family said. He was 83.
Mr. Hegg built a Northern California empire during 31 years at the helm of Sacramento Savings. As chief executive officer, he grew the company’s assets from $60 million in 1963 to more than $3 billion and expanded its reach among customers from three branch offices to 45 branches, and 25 lending offices from Redding to Modesto.
With an industry reputation for intelligence and integrity, he stayed on as leader after Sacramento Savings was sold to Allegheny Corp. of New York in 1989. Sticking largely to the traditional S&L role of writing home mortgages and loaning to small businesses, he steered the company through the industry crisis that began in 1980s, when many thrift institutions made risky investments and failed following federal deregulation.
Under his leadership, Sacramento Savings financed about 200,000 family homes and provided thousands of jobs in the region, according to a 1994 story in The Sacramento Bee. After 120 years in business, the historic lending institution disappeared when it was sold in 1994 to First Interstate Bancorp (which later was acquired by Wells Fargo Bank), and Hegg served as chairman of Allegheny Properties until 2011.
“Bill was a very savvy businessman who surrounded himself with very good people and listened to all points of view before reaching a decision,” said David Bugatto, president and chief executive officer of Allegheny Properties, a former Sacramento Savings officer. “He was there to protect the assets of the bank, which was protecting the depositors.”
Mr. Hegg was prominent in Sacramento as a civic leader and philanthropist. He served as a chairman, board director or member of many organizations, including UC Davis Cancer Center, Goodwill Industries, Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Boy Scouts, KVIE and Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento.
He encouraged Sacramento Savings employees to volunteer and presented checks on behalf of the bank for scholarships, veterans, neighborhood projects and other community needs. He helped raise thousands of dollars for the United Cerebral Palsy Association, which named him 1994 humanitarian of the year.
“Bill gave more than dollars,” said David Ballard, chief executive officer of Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento. “He maintained a personal connection and cared deeply about the charities he gave to. He would come by and visit long after any donation. He was a supporter and a friend.”
William Gavin Hegg was born in 1931 in Stevens Point, Wis. He enrolled in ROTC and earned an accounting degree at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He served in the Army in Germany and was a corporate officer at a savings and loan in Wheaton, Ill., before moving to Sacramento in 1963.
A top amateur golfer, Mr. Hegg won local charity tournaments and was a club champion and longtime member at North Ridge Country Club. He loved performance cars and attended a BMW racing school in North Carolina at age 75.
“He came across as very proper, but he was quite a prankster who was always playing tricks on people,” his daughter Rachael Lamkin said. “I was usually his primary victim.”
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Hegg is survived by a sister, Ann Thompson, and a brother, Jim.
A celebration of his life is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 18 at North Ridge Country Club, 7600 Madison Ave., Fair Oaks. Memorial donations may be made to Children’s Receiving Home of Sacramento, 3555 Auburn Ave., Sacramento, CA 95821, www.crhkids.org.