First National Bank Chairman Sam Sicard Dies at 70

Sam M. Sicard, chairman of First National Bank of Fort Smith and a deep-rooted community leader, died Sunday. He was 70.

Sicard's son, Sam T. Sicard, confirmed his father's death. Sam M. Sicard was attending church with his wife, Sharon, when he died.

"We don't know exactly what happened yet, but he didn't suffer," Sam T. Sicard said.

Sicard said current plans are for a 10 a.m. funeral on Wednesday at Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith, with a private burial to follow.

Sam M. Sicard was CEO and chairman of First National Bank and First Bank Corp. He was elected as bank president in 1977, and oversaw tremendous growth for the bank during his time of leadership.

At one time before the consolidation of bank charters swept Arkansas, First National Bank held the distinction of being the largest bank in the state that wasn't affiliated with a public company.

"We enjoy being the way we are, and for the short term we intend to remain that way," Sicard said in a 1996 interview with Arkansas Business.

The company retained its independence over the years while expanding into neighboring markets in a series of acquisitions through its parent company, First Bank Corp., that began in 1991.

The purchase of Sequoyah County Bancshares and its National Bank of Sallisaw in Oklahoma was followed by Vista Bancorporation and Citizens Bank & Trust Co. of Van Buren in 1994, River Valley Bank of Lavaca in 1999 and Bank of Rogers in 2005.

First Bank Corp. broadened its financial services business with the 2002 acquisition of the Brown Hiller Clark & Associates insurance agency, with autonomous operations in Arkansas and Oklahoma.

First Bank Corp. staff now numbers more than 400. The Sicard family controls more than 40 percent of the bank holding company.

Sam Sicard was involved as a member on many boards and fundraising efforts as well, including the United Way of Fort Smith Area, Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce and Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club. He also was associated with Westark College and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and the Arkansas Children's Hospital.

"He was known to be a true servant-leader; very humble and very behind-the-scenes," Sam T. Sicard said. "He just had a true passion for the community."