Larry T. Wilson

First Arkansas Bank & Trust

City: Jacksonville
Category: Business Executive of the Year
Year: 2001

Larry Wilson didn't have to venture far afield to cultivate his love of banking.

Wilson decided early in his life to follow in the footsteps of his father, Kenneth Pat Wilson, who helped found First Arkansas Bank & Trust in Jacksonville.

His early schooling in the world of banking began on the ground floor with part-time stints as a janitor and teller.

His official career with the bank began in 1971 after he returned from the University of Arkansas with a master's degree in business administration.

"I graduated on Saturday and went to work on Monday after seeing the world on Sunday," Wilson said.

He joined the then-First Jacksonville Bank & Trust as marketing officer and later served as vice president and executive vice president, working in practically every area of operations.

Wilson was named president on Jan. 1, 1982. These days, the 53-year-old executive carries the added titles of chairman and chief executive officer.

Under his leadership, the bank has grown to more than $230 million in total assets. First Arkansas has become a familiar face in the year-to-year rankings of top performing banks among its peers, both on the state and national level.

Wilson said his biggest managerial strength is gathering information before making a decision.

"Others in the bank have told me, 'We appreciate you because you listen,'" he said.

His community involvement includes a record-setting term as a Jacksonville alderman (1973-83, 1987-2001), president of the Little Rock Air Force Base Community Council in 2000-01 and president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce in 1987 and 2000.

Wilson also serves on the Board of Visitors at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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