Harry Brock Jr

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Harry Blackwell Brock Jr (born March 31, 1925 in Fort Payne, DeKalb County; died July 29, 2015) was founder of Central Bank, which became Compass Bank and, later, BBVA Compass.

Brock was born in Fort Payne, but grew up in Gadsden, where his father was a partner in the Brock-Martin Oil Company, and in Hokes Bluff. He completed grade school at the Tennessee Military Institute. and entered the U.S. Navy, in the Submarine Service, in 1944. He was discharged in 1946 and enrolled at the University of Alabama, graduating with a bachelor of science in commerce and business administration in 1949. He married Jane Hollock on October 29 of that year, and went to work as a truck driver for his father's company and as a salesman for John Thomas Motors of Gadsden. Soon later, he and his wife moved to Rochester, New York where he worked for a while as a salesman for the Socony Vacuum Oil Company.

Brock returned to Alabama in 1955, taking a management trainee position with the Exchange Security Bank. He took advantage of the opportunity to earn a degree from the School of Financial Public Relations at Northwestern University in 1957 and a graduate certificate from the American Institute of Banking in 1964.

Brock left the Exchange Bank as a vice-president to found, along with Schuyler Baker and Hugh Daniel, the Central Bank and Trust Company. The new bank was chartered on March 2, 1964 with Brock as CEO. Central Bank grew aggressively and, in 1968, took control of the board of the State National Bank of Alabama, the only bank in the state legally able to open branches across county lines. The success of Brock's gambit opened the doors for the Statewide Bank Merger Act of 1981 and propelled Central Bank into the top tier of Alabama banks. The company's continued expansion into other states spurred a trend in banking nationwide.

Brock retired from Central in 1991, remaining as a board member and taking the honorary title of "Founder Chairman". Other board chairmanships included the Business Council of Alabama, Samford University, and the Metropolitan Development Board. He also held leadership roles on the boards of the Kiwanis Club of Birmingham, the Diabetes Trust Fund, and United Appeal. Other board memberships have included Southern Research Institute, Daniel International Corporation, Alabama Alliance of Business and Industry, Junior Achievement of Birmingham, Jefferson County Community Chest, the Anti-Tuberculosis Association of Jefferson County, and the Jefferson County Society for Crippled Children. He has been an active supporter of the Daniel Foundation and UAB's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Brock also chaired the Modern Banking Association of Alabama and was a member of the board of directors for the Birmingham Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Brock won the Young Bankers Award from the Alabama Bankers Association in 1957 and was inducted into the Alabama Academy of Honor in 1983 and the Alabama Business Hall of Fame in 1993. He was honored with a "Doctorate of Commerce" degree from Samford in 1994 and was inducted with the class of 1999 into the Birmingham Business Hall of Fame. Samford University renamed their business school in Brock's honor in 2007. Compass Bank's Harry B. Brock Administrative Center in Lakeview is also named for him.

Brock died in 2015. He was survived by his wife, Jane; three children, Stanley, Barrett, and Harry III; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.


  • Alabama Academy of Honor. (1983, 2002) Harry B. Brock, Jr. biographical sketch. - accessed February 18, 2007
  • Jones, D. Paul, Jr (October 3, 1990) "Introduction", printed in Harry B. Brock, Jr (1991) A Competitive Spirit: How a Little Bank Made a Big Difference. New York: Newcomen Society. Publication No. 1351.
  • Phillips, Ryan (July 30, 2015) "Birmingham banking legend dies." Birmingham Business Journal