Hamilton native who once led World Bank dies at age 89 in California

A.W. "Tom" Clausen
Posted: Jan. 26, 2013 10:54 pm Updated: Feb. 17, 2013 2:15 am


During his formative years growing up in Hamilton, Ill., A.W. "Tom" Clausen was said to have aspired to become a "transnational citizen."

He achieved that goal.

Mr. Clausen, who visited 119 nations during a career in banking and public service, died Monday in Burlingame, Calif. He was 89.

The cause of death, as reported in the Los Angeles Times, was complications from pneumonia, according to his wife, Helen.

During his career in finance, Mr. Clausen served twice as CEO of the San Francisco-based Bank of America. He was CEO of the Bank of America from 1970-81 and again from 1986-90. During the intervening years, he was president of the World Bank.

Mr. Clausen, who was known by his nickname, Tom, was described as a "no-nonsense" Midwesterner who was raised by parents of Norwegian descent. He got the nickname Tom from a character he portrayed in a school play. His father, Morton Clausen, owned and operated the Hamilton Press.

Alden Winship Clausen graduated in 1944 from Carthage College, which at the time was located in Carthage, Ill., before serving as a flying meteorological officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces until 1946. The college, which still goes by that name, relocated to Kenosha, Wis., in 1962. The campus includes the A.W. Clausen Center for World Business.

After World War II, Mr. Clausen he obtained his law degree from the University of Minnesota.

He began his career at a Bank of America branch in Los Angeles in 1950 as a part-time cash counter. He rose through the ranks to become president and chief executive officer.

While presiding over Bank of America in the 1970s, when it was the nation's largest bank, Clausen regularly spoke publicly about the economic development of Third World countries. That focus paid dividends when President Carter nominated him in 1980 to succeed Robert McNamara as president of the World Bank.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Clausen is survived by two sons, Eric and Mark, and five grandchildren.