Texas Bankers Hall of Fame unveils 2024 inductees

The Texas Bankers Hall of Fame unveiled the 2024 inductees, honoring them at the 11th Annual Texas Bankers Hall of Fame Gala at Sam Houston State University on April 25. Five prominent bankers will be celebrated for their achievements and contributions to their communities and the banking industry.

The Texas Bankers Hall of Fame, established by the Smith-Hutson Endowed Chair of Banking at Sam Houston State University recognizes and honors the accomplishments of outstanding bankers who have made valuable contributions to the banking profession and pioneered the Texas banking industry.

James BaineJames E. Baine received his undergraduate degree from Sam Houston State University in 1982 and his MBA from Texas State University in 1984. He began his banking career at United Bank of Austin during his grad school years. He served various positions at the bank from teller to branch manager/vice president. He then moved to Huntsville for a role as senior vice president at First National Bank.

Baine transitioned to a different industry in 1988 to establish several corporate companies and LLCs for commercial and residential real estate acquisitions. In 1996, he returned to banking alongside his business partner, Walter Nelson, leading the acquisition of Citizens State Bank in Buffalo. Baine played a pivotal role in returning the bank to a highly profitable state. In 1998, Baine and Nelson sold Citizens State Bank to Industry State Bank. In 1999, he obtained a bank charter that became the First State Bank of Huntsville. In 2010, Baine and Nelson sold the First State Bank of Huntsville to First Financial Bank of Abilene. He retired from community banking in 2019.

Harlan Raymond HeitkampHarlan Raymond Heitkamp grew up in Bracken and attended Texas Tech University where he received his master’s degree in civil engineering. Following graduation, he moved to Corpus Christi to work for the City of Corpus Christi Department of Engineering and later established his own civil engineering firm, Maverick Engineering. 

During his engineering days, he joined the board of directors for The International Bank of Corpus Christi. He formed a control group, which purchased five local community banks, eventually becoming known as ValueBank Texas.

Heitkamp served as chairman of services for The Independent Bankers Association of Texas and as chairman of The Independent Bankers Bank. His devoted efforts in community banking led to lasting friendships, providing him with profound joy. Heitkamp peacefully passed away on February 6, 2023.

Carmen JordanCarmen Jordan began her banking career at First Interstate Bank where she completed the retail branch management training program and formal credit training. She later followed her boss and long-time mentor to Amegy Bank of Texas where she worked for 12 years. She served as chief lending officer at Encore Bancshares from 2009-2021, driving substantial growth and playing a pivotal role in enhancing the bank’s credit quality and regulatory rating. These accomplishments contributed to a remarkable stock price appreciation of over 300% within a span of three years.

Jordan joined Origin Bank as executive vice president in 2018 and currently serves as regional president for the greater Houston area. She was named as American Banker Magazine’s Top 50 Women in Banking. Jordan also received numerous awards for her achievements in diversity, including being named one of the Most Powerful and Influential Women in Texas by the National Diversity Council and was included in the Top 15 Business Women of Houston by the National Women’s Council. 

Vidal RamirezVidal H. Ramirez began his banking career in 1965 at the National Bank of Commerce in Brownsville. Ramirez started in banking as a teller, working his way up to various roles at Texas Commerce Bank, River Oaks Bank & Trust, Greater Houston Bank and Unitedbank I-10 West, where he played a pivotal role in its transition to Community Bank.

From 2002 and 2007, Ramirez was the CEO at Community Bank in Katy. During his time in leadership, he assisted in the sale of Community Bank to Sterling Bank, later serving as vice chairman of the new Sterling Bank organization. From 2008 to 2022, Ramirez served as vice chairman and Board Member at Allegiance Bank in Houston. He played a key role as an original founding stakeholder of Allegiance Bank in 2007 and was instrumental in guiding the bank’s expansion from a de novo operation to reaching $6 billion in assets, culminating in its merger with Community Bank of Texas in 2022 to create Stellar Bank. 

Henry WuHenry Wu started his career as a chemical engineer at Amoco Oil Company in 1974. In 1977, he decided to start his own business and established a trading company named General Merchandise, Inc., and went on to establish several additional companies over the years.

Wu entered the banking industry in 1992 when he joined as chairman of Texas First National Bank. He decided to form a new bank under the name of American First National Bank (AFNB) in 1997. Wu and five other organizers raised $15 million of capital in three days and opened American First National Bank for business in May 1998. The bank has 21 locations located in Texas, Nevada and California. As of 2023, AFNB’s total assets exceed $2.6 billion. Wu continues to serve on the bank’s board and as CEO and chairman of the holding company. 

Biz2X ad