Rudolph Peterson / 1904-2003
Bank of America
PIEDMONT, Calif. >> Rudolph Arvid Peterson, a former Bank of Hawaii executive who thrust Bank of America worldwide and later led the United Nations Development Program, has died. He was 98.
A memorial service was held Tuesday for Peterson, who died Dec. 2 at his home in this San Francisco suburb.
Peterson culminated a decades-long banking career in the 1960s as chief executive of Bank of America, then based in San Francisco.
During his tenure, the bank opened dozens of overseas branches, expanded its credit card beyond the United States and nearly doubled in value to $25 billion.
He also oversaw construction of the bank's landmark 52-story headquarters in San Francisco.
For decades before rising to the top of Bank of America, he was an executive at various financial institutions, including Bank of Hawaii, where he previewed his policies of expanding an overseas presence, as well as opening lines of credit to average people.
After retiring, Peterson became administrator of the United Nations Development Program, which oversaw $1 billion a year in technical assistance to 101 developing countries.
He was appointed in 1972 and served almost three years.
Peterson was born on Dec. 4, 1904, in rural Svenljunga, Sweden.
His aunt and uncle brought him to the United States as an 18-month-old -- adopting him and eventually settling on a farm in Hilmar, a Swedish colony in Merced County.
Peterson waited tables and worked in the alumni office to pay his way through the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated in 1925.