The early 1980s were not kind to Akron, the city battered by a deep recession and in the early stages of the wrenching economic change still in progress. A brave few took the initiative to begin meeting the challenge. They didn’t have all the answers, but they were willing to try. One of those was Howard Flood, rising in the decade to president and chief executive officer of First National Bank of Akron, now FirstMerit Corp.
Mr. Flood died last Thursday at age 78 of complications from a degenerative neurological disorder. His accomplishments for the bank were many during his three decades on the job. Yet that hardly was all he did to serve the community.
The recovery of the city had to start somewhere. Mr. Flood joined others in seeing the importance of Akron’s core, its downtown. He was at the forefront in saving the YMCA building, understanding the value of housing downtown. He was there helping to rescue the Civic Theatre, gain Inventure Place, expand Children’s Hospital, participating in and elevating an array of organizations from Leadership Akron to the Akron Roundtable, from Akron Tomorrow to the University of Akron.
Each endeavor wasn’t a rousing success. Many were. The point was to engage, and the way Mr. Flood did so deserves special mention. He had a gift for bringing people together. He knew the value of listening, of learning from others, of modesty, respect and kindness. He was an enviable blend of patient, persuasive and decisive.
The city needed someone with those traits to be a catalyst in a difficult time. Fortunately, Howard Flood played a leading role.