Hugh M. Chapman | Legacy of Leadership Interview


Hugh M. Chapman 


Hugh Chapman's decision not to enter the family textile business, Inman Mills, was of little importance to his parents and four older brothers. Whatever career path he chose, they were confident that he would succeed.    

Upon his retirement on June 30, 1997, Hugh Chapman was chairman of NationsBank South in Atlanta, with corporate-wide responsibilities for the Trust and Private Client Group and for the corporation's regulatory and governmental affairs. His duties as chairman of NationsBank South extended to Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee.    

His leadership ability propelled him from a trainee with Citizens & Southern National Bank in Charleston in December 1958 to president of C&S National Bank of South Carolina in February 1971, two months short of 13 years later.    

Hugh McMaster Chapman was born September 11, 1932, in Spartanburg, the youngest of James A. and Martha Marshall Chapman's five sons. His grandfather, James A. Chapman, founded Inman Mills in the Spartanburg County town of Inman in 1902.

Chapman grew up in Spartanburg, attended the public schools in Spartanburg, and graduated from Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

He enrolled at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and, in 1955, received a bachelor's degree in business administration and a commission in the United States Air Force. He was on active military duty for the next three years and attained the rank of captain. He returned to civilian life and Spartanburg in 1958. His first job as a civilian was in insurance sales.    

Chapman had begun seriously dating Anne Morrison of Georgetown, a Converse graduate studying in France on a Rotary scholarship. When she returned home from France, they were married on December 27, 1958.    

Just prior to that time, John A. Wallace, senior vice president of C&S Bank in Spartanburg, approached Chapman about a job with the bank. Chapman accepted the job and reported for work in Charleston on December 1, 1958. He was one of the bank's first trainees.

After Chapman's training in Charleston, his first assignment was business development in Spartanburg. From there, he was transferred to Columbia, where he was involved in industrial development. His next move was to a brand-new office in Greenville. From there, he was assigned as head of the newly acquired Camden office.

Two years later, he assumed leadership of a region that embraced Camden, Florence, Darlington, and Sumter. Chapman was given the title of executive vice president in 1965. At the time, he was 32 years old.

In 1968, C&S President Willis Cantey brought Chapman back to Columbia as assistant president, a new position, and installed him in an office next to his own. The promotion included a seat on the general board, membership on the executive committee, and line responsibility.

Through retirement in 1974, the bank lost C&S Chairman Hugh Lane, Cantey, and Vice Chairman Albert R. Simonds, the three men credited with building C&S's statewide foundation. 

On July 1, 1974, Chapman was promoted to chairman and chief executive officer of the Citizens and Southern Corporation and the C&S National Bank of South Carolina. As the years passed and national banking laws were relaxed, C&S's success made it a prime target for a merger with C&S of Georgia. This was completed to the satisfaction of stockholders in 1986, and Chapman moved to Atlanta as president of Citizens and Southern Corporation. In 1990, C&S became C&S/Sovran, and, a year later, a merger with NCNB produced the company that became NationsBank.    

In Atlanta, Chapman continued his community activity, serving as chairman of both the Woodruff Arts Center and the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce. Another highlight was his chairing the finance committee of the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games.

During his years in Columbia, Chapman was a trustee and chairman of the South Carolina Educational Television Foundation, a trustee of Presbyterian and Benedict colleges, and a director of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States.

He was also vice chairman of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, director of the South Carolina Research Authority, and president of the Palmetto Orchestra Association.

He served as president of the South Carolina Bankers Association and as a member of the Regional Advisory Committee, Comptroller of the Currency. He was a member and vice chairman of the Government Relations Council of the American Bankers Association and later was an association director. He was also a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Charlotte Branch, and a director of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina.

Chapman is a director of Inman Mills in Inman and SCANA Corporation in South Carolina, WestPointStevens in New York, Williams Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and PrintPark, Inc., in Atlanta. He is also a trustee of the Duke Endowment and chairman of the East Lake Community Foundation in Atlanta.

He has received honorary degrees from the University of South Carolina, Winthrop College, the Medical University of South Carolina, and Wofford College.

On March 8, 1993, Chapman's wife, Anne, lost her life in a traffic accident. The Chapmans were the parents of three daughters, Mary, the wife of Dr. Scott Boyd; Allston Chapman, a resident of Atlanta; and Rachel Chapman, who lives in Columbia. Chapman has three grandsons, Austin, Hugh, and Crawford Boyd.

He was inducted into the South Carolina Business Hall of Fame in 1996.    

© 1999 South Carolina Business Hall of Fame