Retired Hancock Bank Chairman & CEO
Past Mayor of Gulfport, Mississippi (2009-2013)
George A. Schloegel, who rose from high-school-age mailroom associate to Hancock Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, then Mayor of Gulfport, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on Friday, 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. He was a driving force in Hancock Bank 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, Mississippi from 2009 to 2013 and was instrumental in the city’s and the Gulf Coast’s continued economic redevelopment after Hurricane Katrina, using his extensive financial and management expertise to help his hometown recover from the storm’s devastation.
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. Even after his final retirement in 2017, he carried in his pocket the original mailroom key given to him by Leo Seal, Jr., in 1956. He said the key reminded him of humble beginnings and to treat each person he encountered as if they would one day be the leader of an important civic or business organization.
The former president of the Mississippi Bankers Association maintained a grueling cross-country travel pace to tout the Hancock Bank story, eventually 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.
An inspirational leader by style, Schloegel challenged future leaders to combine aspirational goals with uncompromising fundamentals. Throughout his career and retirement, he 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.
Born June 17, 1940, to Joseph A. and Nancy Bertucci Schloegel, young George was actively involved as a youngster in the family business. 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 sudden death, 16-year-old Schloegel added a second job at then Hancock Bank in October 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 month at the Friendship Oak on the University of Southern Mississippi-Gulf Park campus. He developed his lifelong love for gardening and people during those dual careers in a particularly challenging period for the Schloegel family.
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. Always dedicated to hard work, Schloegel worked in the Whitney National Bank while at school in New Orleans and at Hancock Bank while home for weekends.
Upon graduation, he returned to full-time employment at Hancock but remained close to the Whitney organization. He was instrumental through the decades at multiple regional endeavors involving both banks and both states, the most notable of which may have been meeting President George W. Bush in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to deliver the blueprint of opening a joint emergency branch location for all New Orleans area banks.
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.
An ardent supporter of regional economics, Schloegel celebrated his birthday by walking between the Bay of St. Louis and the Bay of Biloxi bridges, many times with young emerging coastal leaders in tow. His love of family and history were intertwined and led him to purchase the original Harry family home as an anniversary gift for Peggy so she could raise their children in the house where she was raised. He was proud to track the lineage of the old antebellum home back to the descendants of our Nation’s first president, George Washington.
A horse enthusiast with a passion for raising Paso Finos and Peruvian Pasos, Schloegel was an avid gardener who for many years grew the bedding plants that eventually graced the grounds of Hancock’s Gulf South locations.
In the last days of his long life, Schloegel was hard at work in the archives vault of Hancock Bank, participating in the development of the 125th Hancock anniversary publications for 2024. To the end of his life, he remained committed to his faith, his family, the bank, and the coastal community. He had many pursuits, and took on each with tremendous energy and passion.
He is survived by his wife, Peggy Harry Schloegel; his children, Matt Schloegel (Linda), Melissa Schloegel Marion (Andrew), Mark Schloegel, and Michael Schloegel (Ashley); 10 grandchildren, Andrew Marion (Kelly), Brooks Marion, Christian Schloegel (Sarah), Matthew Schloegel, Mary Rebecca Schloegel, Anthony Schloegel, Grace Schloegel, Jack Schloegel, Sophie Schloegel, and Lily Schloegel; two great-grandchildren, Paul George Marion and Martha Kay Marion; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will take place at Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home, 15th Street, Gulfport from 5:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, October 10, 2023. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 11, 2023 at St. James Catholic Church in Gulfport where friends may visit from 9:30 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Bradford-O’Keefe Funeral Home 15th Street is honored to serve the Schloegel family.
Memorial donations may be made to the MGCCC Foundation, P.O. Box 99, Perkinston, MS 39573.