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Banking exec is AHS Outstanding Grad

An Andalusia native who followed a long family tradition into the banking industry and rose to CEO of a regional banking company is among those with the Andalusia High School Outstanding Graduated Award.

Richard E. Anthony is the former chairman and chief executive officer of Synovus Financial Corp., a regional banking company headquartered in Columbus, Ga., with banking offices in four states.

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Anthony, a 1964 AHS grad, distinguished himself as an amateur golfer in high school. He won every major junior title in the South, including the Future Master’s Golf Tournament in 1964. He earned a golf scholarship to LSU, and later transferred to the University of Alabama where he earned a finance degree. He also earned an MBA from the University of Virginia.

His banking career began at AmSouth Bank, where he served as executive vice president. As a co-founder of First Commercial Bancshares in 1985, he helped lead the company’s expansion into Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Huntsville, using its Jasper community banking presence as a foundation.

Anthony was president of First Commercial Bancshares when it merged with Synovus in 1992. He became vice chairman of Synovus in 1996, overseeing Synovus’ banking operations. In 2003, he became president and chief operating officer, then taking over CEO responsibilities in 2005. In 2006 he was named chairman and CEO. His service at Synovus concluded in April 2012, when he retired as a board member.

“As a graduate of Andalusia High School and a classmate, I know the pride Richard has carried with him as an alumni,” Ralph Wells wrote in a letter of support for his nomination. “As a fellow high school football and golf team member, I also know the aura and admiration he received in his travels through the golf world.

“To this day, his name is recognized and respected as one of Alabama’s finest amateur golfers ever,” Wells wrote. “Shots that people marvel over when Tiger Woods hit them have been seen before by Richard’s teammates and competitors.”

“Richard is the only Andalusia High School graduate to win the Alabama State High School Golf Championship, which he won on two occasions, in 1962 and 1964,” wrote his nominator, Ab Powell.

Anthony also received a letter of support from Ivan Bishop, who wrote, “I think the foundation provided by the Andalusia school system gave Richard and many others th opportunity to succeed as he has certainly done.”

Anthony also has served as president of the Birmingham Kiwanis Club; graduated from both Leadership Birmingham and Leadership Alabama; served on the president’s cabinet at the University of Alabama; been a member or the Board of Visitors for the Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration’; and was a director of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama.

In 2012, Anthony was inducted into the University of Alabama’s Alabama Business Hall of Fame, joining his previously-inducted grandfather and uncle, former Gov. Charles Henderson and Fox Henderson Sr.

He and his wife, Virginia, currently reside in Birmingham. He is the son of Eland Anthony of Andalusia and the late Jane Anthony.

Others who will be recognized as Outstanding Graduates at a luncheon on Friday are Suzanne Brown Fornaro, Suan Riley Salter, Shelby Searcy and Roger Powell