Former Davidson College Board of Trustees Chair and Banking Industry Leader Edward Crutchfield ’63 Dies

Ed Crutchfield

Photo courtesy of Christopher Record

Edward Elliott “Ed” Crutchfield, Davidson College Class of 1963, passed away on Jan. 2, 2024, in Vero Beach, Fla. Crutchfield served as the chair of Davidson College’s Board of Trustees from 2000 until 2003. 

Crutchfield, who at age 32 became the youngest president of a major U.S. bank, First Union, played a pivotal role in shaping Charlotte, North Carolina, as a banking center.

While Crutchfield was Davidson’s board chair, the college launched the highly successful Let Learning Be Cherished Campaign, which shattered previous fundraising goals and resulted in over 150 new scholarships, including the college’s signature John M. Belk Scholars Program; 15 faculty endowments; and 10 new or newly renovated facilities. 

Crutchfield was a member of the presidential search committee that brought Robert “Bobby” Vagt ’69 to Davidson as its 16th president.  

Vagt said Crutchfield approached challenges with “determined energy.” 

“Ed Crutchfield loved Davidson College,” Vagt said. “Once he got behind something, it was going to happen.” 

That determined energy, tempered with receptiveness to advice and new ideas, made Crutchfield a force for change. He also valued his community and contributed in ways large and small, whether through his role at First Union or kind gestures and words of thanks.   

“It would be easy for a guy in his position to not even be aware of people doing things for him and around him, but he was very aware,” Vagt said. “He recognized he was fortunate, and that there are times you need to express gratitude.”

Crutchfield turned First Union into a major national financial services firm. The bank’s assets under his leadership grew from $5 billion to more than $250 billion at the time of his retirement in March 2001. 

First Union under Crutchfield made headlines for innovations in banking but also for novel, nationally recognized community service initiatives. Crutchfield established the Excellence in Education program, through which employees were allowed paid time each month to participate in public school teaching efforts. The company was recognized with a Point of Light award in 1999 for Excellence in Education and its sponsorship of the Reading First literacy program.  

“Ed Crutchfield helped shape Charlotte’s future as a financial services hub and fostered the atmosphere of civic responsibility that encouraged extraordinary growth and support in the region,” said Davidson College President Doug Hicks ’90. “We are grateful for his life-long dedication to Davidson College, and the impact of his leadership and service in the Charlotte community.”   

In 2001, Crutchfield was inducted into the North Carolina Business Hall of Fame. 

He majored in economics at Davidson and earned his MBA from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Crutchfield received honorary degrees from Pfeiffer University, Johnson C. Smith University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Davidson College (1994). While at Davidson, he was a member of ROTC, the Business/Economics Association, the D Club, Kappa Sigma fraternity, the Beaver Club and the football team. Upon graduation, he was named the Distinguished Military Student. In 1988, he was presented with the James P. Hendrix Award, which is given to a former Davidson football player who has excelled in his chosen profession.

In addition to leading the Board of Trustees, Crutchfield served in virtually every volunteer capacity for Davidson over the years: president of the Charlotte alumni chapter, an Annual Fund class agent, chair of the Annual Fund Leadership Council, a member of the John M. Belk Scholarship Advisory Council, and as a trustee for 16 years. Crutchfield and his wife, Barbara, established the Crutchfield Family Scholarship, making a Davidson education possible for talented scholar-athletes. 

Visit the Charlotte Observer for a story about Crutchfield’s life and impact on the region.


  • January 3, 2024