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Former First Union CEO Ed Crutchfield honored with Vision Award

When the Charlotte Center City Partners called former First Union CEO Ed Crutchfield about honoring him with this year’s Vision Award, it brought back a lot of memories.

Memories of working with other civic leaders to build the Charlotte we know today, Crutchfield says.

Helping build a charity hospital into Carolinas HealthCare System. Strengthening the school system. Landing professional sports teams, the NBA’s Hornets and then the Carolina Panthers. Seeing Charlotte Douglas International Airport turn into one of the busiest in the nation. Running United Way campaigns.

“The part I enjoyed was the doing of it,” said Crutchfield, 71, in an interview at his home before the Thursday evening awards ceremony. “It was almost like watching the petals of a flower unfold. You could see it.”

While transforming First Union into one of the largest banks in the U.S., Crutchfield became part of a core group of business leaders committed to civic projects, working alongside former chief executives like Bank of America’s Hugh McColl, Charlotte Observer publisher Rolfe Neill, Belk Inc. head and Charlotte mayor John Belk, and Duke Power CEO Bill Lee.

Crutchfield retired in 2000, the year before his bank merged with Winston-Salem’s Wachovia. The bank was acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 financial crisis.

But by the time he retired, the bank had “shaped the southern part of Tryon Street and set the stage for the Center City we enjoy today,” the Charlotte Center City Partners said when announcing his selection. The organization’s Vision Award goes to people who have contributed to the vibrancy of uptown Charlotte.

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers won the award last year. Andreas Bechtler, who created the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, was honored the year before. McColl won the award in 2009.

Center City Partners also presented several “special achievement” awards Thursday. Crescent Communities’ Circle South End, the mixed use development just south of uptown, was honored for improving the area.

The city of Charlotte and the Charlotte in 2012 committee were awarded for helping orchestrate last year’s Democratic National Convention.

And Thomas “Pop” and Caroline “Marie” Sadler were honored for their decades with the Greenville Combined Community Youth Organization, which provides activities for young people near uptown.

Alexander Michael’s Restaurant & Tavern was awarded a “Settler’s Award” for its entreprenurship over the past 30 years.

Dunn: 704-358-5235 Twitter: @andrew_dunn
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