Former ICBA president, CEO dies

Former Independent Community Bankers of America President and CEO Ken Guenther died Jan. 25.


Guenther led the organization from 1982-2004 during an era of many industrywide changes. His first few years in the CEO role came as hundreds of small banks failed amid the farm foreclosure crisis of the 1980s. During the early 1990s, Guenther led the community bank effort to defeat a proposal from President George H.W. Bush to allow for interstate bank branching and eliminate the separation of commercial and investment banking. Regulations banning those practices were later eliminated through the 1994 Interstate Banking and Branching Act and 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. 

“In defeating the proposal of President Bush, we bought time for the best of the community banks to continue to do their thing against the backdrop of what was coming down the pipe,” Guenther said in a 2004 BankBeat magazine article marking his retirement. 

Prior to joining the ICBA, Guenther served as a service member in the U.S. Army Reserve, was a Foreign Service officer in Chile, Senate staffer, acting deputy special trade representative during the administration of President Gerald Ford and a Federal Reserve Board advisor.    

Following his time at ICBA, Guenther formed a private consulting practice, where he remained active in financial services policy before retiring in 2012. He also served on corporate and nonprofit boards and was active with the Association of Retired Diplomatic and Consular Offices and Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies.