Mourners lament the loss of Jacoby Dickens, the chairman of Seaway Bank and Trust Company and a man considered one of its foremost business and community leaders.

The banking executive was laid to rest Saturday following funeral services held at Chicago State University’s Jones Convocation Center, 9501 S. King Drive. He had recently been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He died April 14 at his home in Fisher Island, Fla., at age 81.

Dickens was listed among Chicago Magazine’s “20 Most Influential People in Chicago” and had been inducted into the Chicago Business Hall of Fame.  A who’s who of Chicago’s business, education and civic community attended the funeral.

“He was part of a ‘cadre’ of extraordinary philanthropic and successful business entrepreneurs and was a role model for all of us,” said John Rogers, president of Ariel Capital Investments. “He was a great business genius with a commitment to helping others.”

Originally from Panama City, Fla., Dickens had been a longtime resident of Chicago. He was elected to the board of Seaway Bank in 1979 and served as vice chairman before becoming chairman in 1983. He was considered a champion for the African American and civic communities, and served as chairman of the Committee to Elect Harold Washington; as a Commissioner of Economic Development for the City of Chicago; and as a board member of the Chicago Urban League, Chicago State University Foundation and the School of Business at Florida A&M University. He also served as a trustee at the Museum of Science and Industry; at DePaul University, where a scholarship-and-loan program was named in his honor, and at Chicago State University, to which he donated more than $1 million. In 1995, the physical education and athletics building was named for him.

After moving to Chicago in 1946, he attended Wendell Phillips High School on the South Side and credited his father, Jacoby Dickens Sr., with cultivating his love for business and of community.  The younger Dickens soon became a landlord, real-estate investor and connoisseur of entertainment in such venues as the Savoy Ballroom and the Regal Theater. His deep involvement with the community shaped his work at Seaway, where he helped implement the opening of bank branches in otherwise underserved areas of the city, including his own South Side of Chicago.

Believing that Seaway shared responsibility for the financial health of the surrounding community, Dickens focused on growing new businesses through loans, outreach and community development programs. He also supported local churches and mentoring programs, sponsoring African American teenagers through high school and college.

“I learned a lot from Jacoby, I will miss him not only as a mentor and a counselor but as a close personal friend,” said James Compton, former president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League.  

Dickens is survived by his wife of 15 years, Veranda. 

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